At last month’s U.S. 30 public meeting, local planners presented an engineered design of how U.S. 30 might look in the future if the existing road corridor were converted into a freeway.  The draft concept drawings from that meeting can be found online at www.warsaw.in.gov/us30.   

Let’s start by emphasizing the fact that the design presented to the public is a draft concept, generated by a team of transportation engineers, hired by the city of Warsaw. This concept is merely a starting point. INDOT will decide on the final detailed design. By using an engineering group with extensive experience on these types of major road projects, it allows us to present a realistic vision to the public, looking at where specific interchanges and overpasses could be located and how they would look at those locations.  

Like the previous two, this third public meeting was well attended. Questions and comments followed the presentation of the on-route U.S. 30 design. At the end, there was an overwhelming consensus from the attendees, by show of hands, that they preferred to stay on the current route.

Prior to the meeting, that same concept was also presented at multiple community stakeholder meetings and one-on-one meetings that included officials from public safety, hospitals, schools and emergency responders, as well as representatives from both large and small retail and industry establishments that are all located directly along the route. The response at those meeting was also very positive to the “on-route” option.

So, what did our local planning group take away from the local public meetings that have occurred over the past three years, and what’s next?

When the Planning and Environmental Linkages (PEL) study for U.S. 30 begins next year, the city will present the “on-route” concept drawings to INDOT as well as a summary of public input. I would say it’s safe to conclude that in general, the public preference for improving U.S. 30 should occur along the existing, current roadway.

What will INDOT do with that information? They will undoubtedly use it as they evaluate all the options in our county. We are also told that they will host more listening sessions as a significant component of their study. In addition, they will look at both physical and social environmental challenges, traffic and accident data at existing crossings, and the financial details, among all of the identified route options.

So how long is this going to take and where will the money come from?

The PEL is expected to take up to two years from which we would expect a final recommendation. That would then trigger additional federal environmental engineering studies that could take another year. Once completed, the project would be officially designated and eligible for federal funds.

Identifying the funding to initiate the project would be next. The timeline for that is difficult to project, as you can imagine. Once that occurs, design engineering, bidding and awarding of contracts could take four or five years.  Then, depending on the availability of funding, construction could start.

How long would it take to complete the project? That’s one I wouldn’t even attempt a guess. These projects are typically done in phases, and, as an example, they are still working on the completion of U.S. 31 and I-69 in southern Indiana, projects that started 15 or 20 years ago!

Thanks to all of you who have taken the time to get involved. All of us need to stay engaged when the PEL meetings start next year. We have much exciting work ahead of us and need your continued involvement to shape the future vision of U.S. 30 in our community.