By JOHN KLINE
THE GOSHEN NEWS
It looks like plans for the possible relocation of U.S. 33 could be finalized by as early as this summer.
Such was the news presented by Goshen City Engineer Mary Cripe during the annual joint Goshen City Council-Goshen Board of School Trustees meeting held Tuesday at the GCS Administration Building.
During the meeting, Cripe indicated the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) has approximately $35 million set aside for reconstruction of the U.S. 33 project, the discussion of which has been ongoing for the better part of 20 years.
In beginning her presentation, Cripe said tentative plans had initially involved the reconstruction of U.S. 33 from Main Street to C.R. 40. Local officials have since changed those plans in favor what has been commonly referred to as the “northern connector route.”
“Over the past year, the City Council and Goshen Community Schools and the Chamber of Commerce all came together and agreed what was the best alternate for the City of Goshen was the northern connector route,” Cripe said. “So if this north connector route is chosen by INDOT — because they are still evaluating all different alternates and going through the environmental documents — then basically the project will start at Monroe Street and end at Main Street.”
According to Cripe, the northern connector route would involve construction of an overpass over the railroad tracks, Ind. 4 and Cottage Avenue, with initial construction beginning just south of Monroe Street.
“They’re going to begin just south of Monroe Street, and they’ll cut up through the (Goshen High School) bus parking area and the baseball field, and continue north toward the railroad,” Cripe said of the proposed route. “They’ll parallel the railroad, then they’ll start going with an elevated section somewhere right between 10th and 11th street.
“They’ll start their incline for the bridge to go up and over the (railroad tracks), which parallel Ninth Street, then they’ll go over Ind. 4, and then there’s Lincoln Avenue, they’re still along the railroad, then they’ll come back down at Fifth Street and tie back in at Main Street. And that will be the end of this project.”
In discussing the pros and cons of the northern connector option, Cripe said the option successfully routs U.S. 33 around a good chunk of the downtown historic district, helping to improve community cohesion. However, she also said that the route is the most expensive being considered and will make it necessary for more relocations of residents due to the number of properties that would need to be purchased and taken down, and the required relocation of the GCS baseball diamond.
According to GCS Superintendent Diane Woodworth, the corporation has been considering the purchase of the old JCI property near the high school as a possible alternative location for the school’s baseball diamond should the northern connector route be chosen. At approximately 13 acres in size, Woodworth said the property should be able to provide enough space to relocate the main baseball diamond as well as the inclusion of several softball diamonds and storage areas.
While no final decision has yet been made on which option INDOT will eventually settle on for the project, Cripe said she anticipates a final decision on the project could be decided by as early as this summer.