FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Changes could be coming to five intersections along U.S. 30 in Allen County. Thursday night the public got a chance to weigh in on the proposed improvements.
The section of the highway in question is the stretch between Kroemer and O’Day Roads. The goal is to reduce congestion and increase safety as the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) expects travel to essentially double on U.S. 30 over the next 20 years.
In a 30 minute pre-recorded presentation at Sweetwater Sounds, residents learned about INDOT’s options for each intersection.
The first option INDOT is exploring to get ahead of this issue before it begins and constructing tear drop roundabouts at the intersection of Kroemer Road and U.S. 30. A bridge would be built connecting one side of Kroemer to the other, similar to what is seen at the Union Chapel Road exit of I-69.
However, INDOT said space is limited in that area so they also looked at the O’Day, Stahlhut, Felger, and Flaugh insections further west. On the table for Flaugh is a diamond-shaped ramp construction with roundabouts on either side of 30. INDOT is also exploring the possibility of added a diverging diamond to that intersection, the type of interchange seen at the Dupont Road exit of I-69, or a partial cloverleaf intersection with all four ramps on the west side of the bridge.
During the meeting officials also discussed a no build option that would leave the intersections as they were.
After the presentation WANE 15 asked those in attendance what they thought of the changes and received a split response. One woman said that “it’s about time” while another said, “I’m tired of the crashes and this sounds like it will help.”
However others weren’t impressed and are hoping INDOT look further into the future.
“I wasn’t satisfied with what they presented,” said attendee Elias Samaan. “A while back we said we need a freeway. I realize that maybe freeway is not the ultimate thing or impossible to do but come close to it or make some access control and provide alternatives to those living along the corridor would be beneficial.”
For decades some officials and residents along U.S. 30 have discussed and expressed the desire to change the highway into an interstate. But how likely is it?
Earlier this year INDOT announced a Planning and Environmental Linkage study for the U.S. 30 corridor from Valparaiso to the Ohio state line. INDOT says the study will include an examination of mobility, safety, and economic development.
That study is different than the traffic study presented Thursday night. According to the study by 2019, over 27,500 people travel that stretch of U.S. 30 each day. That number is expected to increase to almost 40,000 by 2043. This increase in traffic on the road leaves the potential for fatal crashes and other traffic problems to increase with it.
According to INDOT, 25% of that is commercial traffic. Officials say that though it is a high amount it’s not an abnormal amount of traffic compared to other roads like Coliseum Boulevard. But it’s less than the Ohio side of U.S. 24 which INDOT says sees 50%.
“At this point, anything is on the table,” said INDOT spokesman Hunter Petroviak. “I can’t say yes, we will do an interstate or no we are not.”
INDOT says that both the traffic study and the Planning and Environmental Linkage. However, while the planning is scheduled to start this year, that study won’t be done for a couple of years. That’s why INDOT says they are focusing on the five intersections on U.S. 30. now, because the need is there.
An updated estimate says that the cost of construction, right-of-way acquisition and utility relocations cost range from $35.5 to $40.5 million.
Next summer INDOT plans to identify the preferred alternative with a final design announced by May 2023. Construction could start as soon as the fall of that year but will more than likely start in 2024 and last for about a year.
For those unable to attend the meeting Thursday you can still give your two cents.
If you would like to voice your opinion to INDOT you can send them a call at 317-983-3242, email them at [email protected], or sent them a letter at 8790 Purdue Road, Indianapolis, IN. 46268. The comment period will last until July 1.