Goshen News, Goshen, IN

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March 6, 2014

WHO WE ARE: Major transportation changes just around the corner

Plans for as many as three grade separations could be in the works for Goshen area

GOSHEN — A rerouted and raised U.S. 33, a quiet zone and a Waterford Mills Parkway bridge over the Marion Line will change the way motorists travel through and around the city in a few years. And those may not be the last three projects to separate cars from trains.

The city of Goshen has been holding public input sessions on its next comprehensive plan, and according to City Engineer Mary Cripe, that plan may address the desire to have another grade separation on the south side of the city. Also, Elkhart County officials are beginning to plan for a grade separation in Dunlap.

Cripe said the idea of an additional grade separation in the city, perhaps on Plymouth Avenue or College Avenue, is based on safety.

“If you look at all the residential areas on the east side of the track (north-south Marion Line) and the hospital is on the west side, it is an issue at times in emergency response,” Cripe said. “And it would make travel easier for everyone.”

She said the formation of the city’s comprehensive plan with public input is essential in getting such projects completed in the future.

“The things they were talking about in 1992 — in the next few years we are talking about implementing them,” she said.

Cripe indicated that in some communities comprehensive plans are completed and then shelved, but in Goshen they are a living, breathing document that city officials use constantly to reference what projects need to be completed.

“The plan is very useful for the people who are trying to plan for the city long-term,” she said.

U.S 33 reroute

The Indiana Department of Transportation intends to reroute U.S. 33 from in front of Goshen High school at Monroe Street, along the Ninth Street corridor to Pike Street. The $25 million elevated roadway would include bridges over the Marion Line, Ninth Street, Lincoln Avenue and Cottage Avenue, allowing Goshen drivers to cross town without being delayed by trains.

The Goshen City Council has endorsed the plan and INDOT recently approved it, according to INDOT spokeswoman Toni Mayo. The draft of the plan has been sent to the Federal Highway Administration for approval. Once that approval is received, a public hearing on the project will take place in Goshen.

In addition, Cripe said there are talks going on with Norfolk-Southern about easing the sharp curve in the Marion Line railroad as it leaves the main east-west railroad and turns south at Ninth and Washington streets. If an agreement is reached to relocate those tracks slightly to ease the curve, the Ninth Street and Washington street crossings will be closed.

Building the elevated roadway will mean 40 or more properties will be taken and others will be impacted by noise and sight restrictions.

According to INDOT officials, a noise study is being conducted and will be part of the draft impact plan presented to the public. The project may begin in 2016.

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Three Goshen elementary schools — Chandler, Chamberlain and West Goshen — are providing free meals to all students during the school year as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Community Eligibility Provision of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. Nearly 80 percent of students at Chandler, 89 percent of students at Chamberlain and 78 percent of students at West Goshen already qualify for free or reduced-price lunches based on their family income. How do you feel about the new lunch program?

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