Elkhart Chamber of Commerce discusses U.S. 31 improvement project

ELKHART, Ind. – The Greater Elkhart Chamber of Commerce hosted their annual Transportation Breakfast on Tuesday which focused on improving U.S. 31.

The plan is to convert it into a freeway that extends from South Bend directly to Indianapolis.

Officials say that improving U.S. 31 would shorten the travel time between Indianapolis and South Bend as well as encourage companies to develop and invest in areas along that stretch.

The improvement project would make access easier for the transportation of goods and products.

There was a special presentation made by Dennis Faulkenberg, who is the U.S. 31 Coalition Executive Director.

Faulkenberg says that improving U.S. 31 is the better plan moving forward.

“You know, piece by piece, it's millions and millions for each of these pieces,” Faulkenberg said. “It is a big deal to get seven interchanges and two overpasses. But we need to get the whole thing done. If they were doing I-69 with a Band-Aid here and a Band-Aid there, they would have never gotten done, so it's that commitment and plan to do the whole thing that gets it done.”

Officials are citing Grissom Airport (about 75 miles south of Indianapolis) as an example for improving U.S. 31.

If U.S. 31 were converted into a continuous freeway, then Grissom Airport could become a major shipping hub.

Additionally, the project is expected to prevent 2,600 accidents and 12 fatalities per year and that completion of the full corridor will provide safety benefits totaling $2.6 billion.

Some of the challenges of implementing the improvements include properties with driveways on U.S. 31, railroad crossings, and stoplights.

The current development plan is to eliminate the stoplight intersections and install several traffic interchanges.

This project has yet to be approved.

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