Safety issues on U.S. 30 are becoming a top issue for Mayor Joe Thallemer, but what exactly can be done in the short term remains elusive.
Nonetheless, the city will be working with the state and other neighboring communities along the east-west corridor to look at improvements in the near future and down the road.
That was one of the messages made clear Monday during a strategic planning session organized by the city for members of city council.
Concerns about increased traffic – and truck traffic – is following two routes: The state is actively looking at the long-term notion of creating a new limited access highway that would stretch from Fort Wayne to Porter County in northwest Indiana.
Exactly where the new road would be located is far from final and construction is certainly years away, but local input on the process will soon begin, Thallemer said.
He said representatives of all communities along the highway will gather soon in a public setting to discuss the long-term plans.
The project would be led by the Indiana Department of Transportation.
At the same time, officials with Warsaw are looking at short-term ways to make it safer traveling through the 11 intersections that dot U.S. 30 in the city.
“We’ve got short-term concerns with our Parker Street and Anchorage Road,” Thallemer said. “INDOT has already approached us to potential solutions on U.S. 30.”
Thallemer did not elaborate on what those ideas might involve.
He told council that city officials will meet in a public session in the near future that will look at plans for a future highway.
He said highway safety has become even more of a priority.
“The time is now for our community to realize the needs and concerns on U.S. 30,” Thallemer said.
Controlling traffic along U.S. 30 has been a concern for city leaders dating back to at least the era of Mayor Jeff Plank who repeatedly said he did not want to see it become something like U.S. 31 around Kokomo.
Thallemer said he doesn’t think the local situation is as congested as Kokomo, but compared the potential development of a limited access highway to replace U.S. 30 to the construction in recent years of the new U.S. 31, which is limited access that bypasses Kokomo.
“Kokomo was more of a logistics issue of getting through and slowing down,” Thallemer said. “This is more of a safety issue.”
In related matters, council received an update on other projects during the strategic planning session.
The North Buffalo Street project will begin in earnest this spring with the movement of utilities. Once that happens, the city will work on infrastructure, including road, a streetscape and lighting, among other things. That work should be complete by the end of this year, said city planner Jeremy Skinner.
Design of the plaza near the lake is underway and is scheduled to be constructed in 2019, Skinner said.
A private developer, Dave Matthews, is then expected to construct a mixed-use development that includes a variety of housing and commercial.
Matthews has several years to complete that aspect of the project.
The plaza will be along the lake near the old boat ramp.
In another matter, Skinner said they expect to know if the city will be the recipient of an INDOT grant that could provide about $1 million to improve and extend sidewalks in the Lincoln school neighborhood.
If the city receives the grant, construction would not begin for about four years in part because the money is tied to the federal funding, Skinner said.
The city would have to cover 20 percent of the entire cost, he said.
Members of the Lakeland Art Association had mentioned an interest in participating in Monday’s meeting to discuss the future of the old Warsaw city hall, but did not attend.
Thallemer said the topic will be on Monday’s city council agenda.