INDOT officials to discuss impact of U.S. 20 expansion project on Thursday
ELKHART COUNTY, Ind. – A narrow stretch of highway in Elkhart County could expand.
On Thursday, officials with the Indiana Department of Transportation will host a public hearing on a plan to expand a four mile stretch of U.S. 20 between S.R. 15 and C.R. 35 in Elkhart County.
The current proposal would create two lanes of traffic in each direction, a middle left turn lane, and two paved shoulders for buggy traffic.
INDOT completed a similar expansion on U.S. 20 west of S.R. 15.
“That’s a growing area and as we see the area grow, more businesses and homes move into that area, that means more traffic,” said INDOT Northeast Media Relations Director Nichole Hacha-Thomas. “As you have more traffic building up over there, it just makes more sense to continue that onto east of S.R. 15 as well.”
INDOT believes the expansion would primarily occur south of U.S. 20. If approved, construction would likely start in 2023 (?)
“This project is going to alleviate congestion,” said Hacha-Thomas. “It’s also going to make that area much more efficient and able to move that traffic through quicker which is going to get people to their destination more safely and more timely.”
The state needs to acquire 91 acres to complete the project. That would impact 19 homes, two business, and four farms. While the full environmental impact is still being study, INDOT says the project would likely adversely affect a threatened species of bat in the area.
Steve Kauffman lives along the proposed stretch of U.S. 20.
“When we moved here, we didn’t even think about how busy it was because it wasn’t busy,” said Kauffman.
He would lose a few feet of his property and he would have to move some of his irrigators under the current proposal.
“They will infringe, infringe some on our property here, our yards and stuff,” said Kauffman. “It’ll [be] interesting to see, but I know it’s progress and it has to be done. My goodness, the traffic that’s on this road, it’s gotta be, we’ve seen some bad accidents because of it.”
The proposal is still in the planning stages. It could change depending on community feedback according to Hacha-Thomas.
“This is not a done deal, this is still a proposed project,” said. “We want to hear feedback.”
Thursday’s public hearing starts at 6 p.m. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. It’s being held at Northridge High School in Middlebury.
To learn more about the proposal, click here.