County residents raise concerns over increased traffic around South Bend industrial park
GERMAN TOWNSHIP, Ind. —- A group of residents living in St. Joseph County’s German Township have concerns with the growing amount a traffic moving in and out of a South Bend industrial park.
The township trustee described the area as a former farming area now transforming into an industrial hub. The industrial complex is just off of the US 31 Bypass near the Cleveland and Brick Road interchange.
“They created the problem, we warned them about the problem,” said Tom Zmyslo, a frustrated German Twp. resident. “They haven’t come up with a solution.”
For two years, the group said they have requested the South Bend Common Council, St. Joseph County Council and County Commissioners to take action to lessen the amount of traffic coming in and out of the industrial park. The park is within the South Bend city limit, but residents report employees and even semi-trucks using county roads as short cuts to the bypass.
Dylan Road, which is within the city limit, appears to be the industrial complex’s entrance and exit road. According to a city ordinance, the only official truck route in that area are the following:
- US 31 from Cleveland to Michigan-Cloverleaf
- Old Cleveland from Bendix to Mayflower.
According to the ordinance, all trucks must follow the defined state or national highways and City truck routes. Trucks may not travel on any other public streets of the city, except on approved routes.
The City said the approved routes were created before 1990 and for that reason it will coordinate with Council and the County to make sure enforcement better matches community needs. According to the city, it discourages heavy truck traffic from venturing off of assigned truck routes through a combination of signage and enforcement.
Zmyslo said the trucks do use the Dylan Rd. entrance and exit.
“But they don’t have to use it cause they can take shortcuts on Orange, Brick, Mayflower, Adams or Portage,” he said.
Residents said they are concerned with the following:
- Increased traffic,
- Semi-trucks damaging at-risk county roads and infrastructure,
- Noise pollution,
- Light pollution,
- And high speeds.
David Szucs, who lives across the street from the industrial park, said cars travel at speeds up to 60 miles per hour. The posted speed limit is 40 miles per hour.
The South Bend Police Department said it does not have portable speed detectors out in the city. According to the department, it has not had any complaints recently within the city limits that are specific to around the complex.
“The traffic is unbelievable,” said Szucs.
He said he cannot leave his driveway between 3:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. Most of the traffic is employees leaving for the day or semi-trucks looking to avoid the congestion on Dylan Rd.
“I’m really not sure what we need to do, but our councils need to do something,” said Szucs.
Tom McClanahan, the trustee for German Township, said it doesn’t seem like there’s a great concern to resolve this issue. McClanahan said there is nothing the board of trustees can do but be a voice for residents.
ABC 57 News reached out on Tuesday to the St. Joseph County Council and County Commissioner Andy Kostielney. South Bend Common Council President Tim Scott wrote in the following statement to ABC 57 News:
“While the Portage Prairie Industrial Park, which is part of South Bend, continues to fill in with successful businesses, we understand there are growing pains which effects residents in the county. The solution will lay with a collaboration between businesses, residents, the city and the county. All solutions start with data, which we are waiting on traffic counts from the county, city and MACOG. I am dedicated to following through on the action items discussed with the county residents.
Two weeks ago we learned the state and South Bend will invest about 4 million dollars in improvements to the Cleveland Road interchange with the bypass. This is good news and a start of improvements in the German township area.”
Amazon.com is the latest corporation to announce its opening of a facility in South Bend. Reports show the facility will be inside the complex in question.
County residents said they are doubtful of any type of relief after seeing new developments popping up and more corporations moving in.
“The only thing they talk about is money,” said Szucs. “They don’t want to solve the problem.”