Increased traffic, especially trucks, on this National Highway System route was having negative effects on the local community’s desire for a walkable, more livable downtown. Studies and solutions were presented back as far as the 1980’s, and an Engineers Report was completed in 1998 for the project. The report recommended widening US 33 along its current route, however, public controversy caused INDOT to put the project on hold. Upon revival of the project in 2008, additional alternatives were added, and in the end more than six alternatives with sub options were discussed. Those alternatives summarized 25 years of discussions that had yet to identify a preferred alternative.
The preferred alternative chosen, the “Northern Connector”, was an $18 million mini-urban-bypass in the heart of the City of Goshen. The Northern Connector re-routes US 33 several blocks to the north of its existing alignment along the existing rail corridor. The project limits were between Goshen High School and Pike Street, about 5,000 feet in length. Benefits of the project ultimately adopted included:
- Decreased the length and delay of the US 33 route through Goshen.
- Reduced the number of traffic signals on US 33 from seven to two.
- Reduced access points and eliminated turning vehicles.
- Extensive public outreach and collaboration through Project Coordination Team meetings, Community Action Committee made up of local stakeholders, multiple Public Information Meetings and Design Hearing.
- Three bridges separated traffic at Lincolnway Avenue, Cottage Avenue and the Norfolk Southern Railroad Spur. Both concrete and steel bridges were used as options to best fit the skew and length required crossing over roads and railroads at a severe angle.
- MSE Walls reduced the footprint to save construction and right of way costs and the number of right of way acquisition parcels.
- The project included 45 right of way parcels with 25 homeowner and 6 business relocations.
- The right of way was 75% secured just one year after the right of way funding was authorized.
- There was extra coordination with the City of Goshen due to the impacts to local streets, water and sanitary utilities.
The project also required the acquisition and demolition of 44 residential structures and 5 commercial structures. DLZ utilized its in-house staff of IDEM accredited Asbestos Building Inspectors to complete the asbestos inspections. As part of the asbestos inspections, DLZ identified suspect asbestos containing materials, performed bulk sampling, and documented the quantity and condition of the suspect materials. DLZ developed a comprehensive asbestos inspection report and developed special provisions for the abatement of the asbestos containing materials.