Goshen News, Goshen, IN

March 26, 2014

Goshen residents give opinions on public transportation, roundabouts

Last comprehensive plan meeting held

By SCOTT WEISSER
THE GOSHEN NEWS

GOSHEN — Local residents offered their input on the future of The Maple City during a meeting Monday at the Goshen Public Library. It was the final of four meetings held in an advance of updating the city’s comprehensive plan.

Monday’s gathering was focused on land use, transportation and infrastructure. Around 50 people — a mix of the general public, elected officials and city planning staff — attended the event, which included an overview of Goshen road and railroad projects by Civil City Engineer Mary Cripe.

Information and input sessions took place, with small groups of the assembled moving through several presentations. Topics included promoting and improving public transportation, where sidewalks are needed or need to be improved, potential traffic “roundabout” locations and where the city should grow.

Suggestions for sidewalks included: A pedestrian-way along U.S. 33 on Goshen’s north side; along West Clinton from Indiana Avenue to Greene Road; and fixing the sidewalk along Main Street from College Avenue to the downtown.

Regarding public transportation, one suggestion was to have an express bus between Goshen and Elkhart during rush-hour periods. Another was a “ride to work on the trolley” promotion.

“We need to somehow assimilate people on those trolleys,” said Goshen City Council member Jim McKee, manning the transportation station at the meeting. “... A lot of us have lived in big cities along the way, and public transportation’s a way of life.”

Regarding roundabouts, participants placed stickers next to their preferred options. Audience favorites included the intersections of College Avenue and South 15th Street (around 21 stickers by meeting’s end), Greene Road and Lincoln Avenue (20), Greene Road and Clinton Street (20) and Indiana and Wilden avenues (18). The top “no” vote-getter was College Avenue and Greencroft Boulevard.

Comprehensive plans, required by state statute, are designed to guide community development and outline long-term objectives. City planners will now work to put together a draft of the plan. The plan will ultimately be presented to the City Council for approval.

Projects

Prior to the public input segment of the meeting, Cripe outlined several proposed road and rail projects. Among them:

• The Indiana Department of Transportation’s plans for U.S. 33 in Goshen.

The highway will be rerouted from its existing alignment via a bridge going over the north-south Marion rail line, over Lincoln and Cottage avenues and coming back down and tying into Pike Street (U.S. 33) at Main Street.

• A “third track” construction along U.S. 33 from Rieth Boulevard southeast to just east of Indiana Avenue. This will allow the Marion line to have its own set of tracks into the Robert Young rail yards.

“So many times the trains on the Marion branch must stop to wait for another train to clear on the Chicago line before entering onto the Chicago Line,” according to information provided by city Engineering Department staff. “This not only causes delays for the trains, but it also causes the extremely long traffic backups on the city streets.”

• The Marion rail branch curve realignment project.

“Currently trains on the Marion branch are permitted to run at 20 mph, but must slow down to 10 mph in order to make it through the curve to enter upon the Chicago line,” according to Engineering Department staff. “By realigning this curve by approximately 15-20 feet, the trains could continue through this curve at 20 mph, instead of having to slow down to 10 mph.”

• There are proposed improvements at rail crossings including New York, Burdick, Jackson, Plymouth, Purl, Kercher, College and Jefferson. Also anticipated is the closure of the Ninth, Washington and Douglas crossings. Goshen officials also have a goal of a train horn “quiet zone” designation from C.R. 40 to Lincoln Avenue.

• Cripe said Kercher Road intersection improvements are planned at Ind. 15 and U.S. 33. Providing a better turning radius for trucks is a goal behind those projects.

• Elkhart County officials plan to extend C.R. 17 from Kercher Road (C.R. 38) south to C.R. 142.

• Goshen officials have obtained federal funds to connect the Waterford Mills Parkway to Ind. 15. The parkway currently ends at Regent Street.