Goshen News, Goshen, IN

February 14, 2013

'Connector' not a bad way to go

— Anybody who has been stuck on Goshen’s Madison Street (U.S. 33), waiting patiently as a freight train rolls leisurely along next to Ninth Street, knows what it means to be “trained.” East of the tracks, traffic often backs up past the high school. West of the tracks, the line of cars and trucks routinely extends back to Main Street.

More daring drivers will often rocket down either Eighth Street or 10th Street, to beat the locomotive to another crossing, in many cases Plymouth Avenue. That’s not exactly the safest of situations, especially when you consider the number of children around Chandler Elementary School.

As heavily traveled as U.S. 33 is through Goshen, particularly with semi and large-vehicle through-traffic, the need for an overpass/underpass/re-route has been well documented for decades. Well, it finally appears that a solution to Goshen’s U.S. 33 traffic snarl is on the horizon, possibly quite literally.

For years the emphasis of city officials was directed toward the widening of Madison Street from Main Street east to C.R. 40 coupled with a grade separation at the tracks. Now the favored plan is a complete re-route of U.S. 33 called the “northern connector” route. That plan calls for the construction of a new road, much of it elevated, that begins at Fifth and Pike streets, runs southeast along the Norfolk-Southern tracks, cuts farther south through the current location of Goshen High School’s Phend Field baseball diamond and re-connects with U.S. 33 at Monroe Street just past the high school.

The new two-lane route would stretch more than a mile and include an overpass — 34 feet at its highest point — over the north-south Norfolk-Southern tracks, Lincoln Avenue, Cottage Avenue and Ninth Street. It would change not only how through-traffic passes through the city, but how the city looks. Imagine driving east on Lincoln Avenue, and seeing traffic in the sky ahead of you. That’s a pretty dramatic change.

This paper in the past has favored the concept of a Madison Street underpass at the tracks, similar to that of North Main Street in Mishawaka. However, as City Engineer Mary Cripe pointed out in an article Sunday, that plan would not address the issue of through-traffic downtown and would raise concerns of pedestrian safety around Chandler. Both are valid points.

The more we hear about the “northern connector” route, the more we think it makes sense for the community as a whole. With that said, the project would affect about 50 properties and that is always a concern to be taken seriously.

Since U.S. 33 is a federal highway, the Indiana Department of Transportation, will have the final say on the project. We think the “northern connector” route would be a good way for INDOT to go.