Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Local News

November 20, 2012

Goshen City Council to address Kercher Road, semi traffic

GOSHEN — Semi-truck traffic on C.R. 38, also known as Kercher Road, has been a topic at several recent Goshen City Council meetings.

Tonight, the council members will tackle it head-on with a proposal to prohibit certain kinds of commercial vehicles, including semi-trucks, along Kercher Road between Main Street and the western city limits, according to the ordinance. Violators could be charged up to $2,500.

Councilman Ed Ahlersmeyer said he supports the thoughts behind the ordinance, but he’s wary of passing it through both first and second readings without input from Mayor Allan Kauffman, who will not be at Tuesday’s meeting, and answers to questions he has about the ordinance.

“The reason I think this is important is that I don’t think the road is suitable for semi-truck traffic,” Ahlersmeyer said by phone Monday. “The two S-curves before the bridge are dangerous. ... I’ve just got a safety issue. My biggest concern are the speed and size limits on those S-curves.”

Ahlersmeyer said he would like semi-trucks who are travelling as through-traffic (not making any stops between Main St. and the western city limits) to use Ind. 119, also known as Plymouth Avenue, Ind. 15 or C.R. 17 instead.

“These are state roads constructed to handle this kind of traffic daily,” Ahlersmeyer said. “I also don’t like the eastbound traffic coming downhill, especially if it’s a fully loaded semi-trailer.”

Talk centered around Kercher Road and traffic problems in the past has been answered by the thought of forming a committee to look at the problems. Ahlersmeyer said he didn’t think a committee had been convened before this proposal, but that the City Council members, several city offices and County Commissioner Mike Yoder had been contacted for the draft.

Goshen City Council president Tom Stump said he thinks he will vote in favor of this ordinance, though he is open to discussion.

“This is something similar to what I proposed to the mayor,” Stump said.

Stump said he encourages committee action to think about safety issues with traffic, with C.R. 38 serving as a good example.

“Right now, (this ordinance) is all we have,” Stump said. “Maybe we’ll have another road in the future, but right now we have to deal with the hand we’ve been dealt. We need to improve this road.”

“I think we definitely have some questions to be answered,” Ahlersmeyer said of the ordinance. “I wouldn’t feel comfortable with it passing both readings Tuesday night.”

Ahlersmeyer said one of his questions regards the legality of the ordinance. The county has a right to decide what traffic can go over the bridge that leads into the city, he said, but this ordinance would effectively limit what traffic could and couldn’t use that bridge.

Elkhart County Commissioner Mike Yoder said C.R. 38 is a major arterial street for Goshen, specifically for the industrial park. With that in mind, county officials want to continue to improve the road.

“The long-standing disagreement between the county and city of Goshen is the use of C.R. 38,” Yoder said by phone Monday. “C.R. 38 is a primary arterial road for getting commercial traffic in and out of the city.”

Yoder said current traffic counts, gathered as a study of county roads in the wake of C.R. 17 opening up, puts current traffic at 9,000 vehicles daily on C.R. 38. To compare, the two-lane sections of U.S. 20 receive between 12,000 and 15,000 vehicles per day.

“In the county’s view, C.R. 38 is not a residential road,” Yoder said.

With that in mind, county officials aim to improve the bridge and intersections of the road soon.

“There are already plans to realign the bridge to make it more traffic-friendly,” he said.

Yoder said a comprehensive traffic study will come out in a few weeks that will look at county roads in more detail.

“From a county perspective, we need to continue to improve that road,” Yoder said.

The City Council will meet today at 7 p.m. at the Police & Courts Building, 111 E. Jefferson St.

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