FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WFFT) -- From Valparaiso to the Ohio State Line, US 30 is integral for transportation across our state, as well as the economy of the towns it runs through.
One them...Columbia City.
Mayor Ryan Daniel says he’s advocated for improvements to the highway for years.
The Indiana Department of Transportation announced they’re looking to make necessary improvements to US 30. In the coming months, INDOT will begin a Planning and Environment Linkages study aimed at improving safety, traffic flow, freight movement, and economic development.
“This plan gives us the opportunity to really realize what that future planning is going to be,” Daniel said.
They’ll be looking at two major factors: safety and economic viability.
“It’s important for individuals both residents and visitors to get from point A to point B effectively. Obviously, one of those businesses relies on this traffic that stops through, whether it’s a bite to eat or to stop at our different shops,” he said.
Popular spot to grab a bite, Wing Etc., is just off of US 30 in Columbia City.
Manager Krista Schimmels commutes from Fort Wayne on the highway every day. She has mixed feelings about the potential of 30 becoming a freeway.
“With the winter we’ve had so far the number of wrecks and people driving off the roads going over 60 is a little bit insane, so it makes me nervous,” Schimmels said.
On the other hand, she says it may help with traffic and make it safer for drivers on the road.
“I also like the idea of it turning into a freeway. Maybe it would bring a little bit more business here,” she said.
INDOT Spokesman Hunter Petroviak says if they were to transform US 30 into a freeway today it would cost $1.5 billion dollars. The solution isn’t that cut and dry though.
“People can form opinions, a freeway is obviously something that the PEL could tell us is a good example of what to do with that road, but it also could give us other best practices for that road and best uses for taxpayer dollars which could mean intersection improvements like a J-turn,” Petroviak said.
INDOT anticipates beginning the study mid-to-late 2021. They say it should take about two years to complete. Most projects on US 30 have been put on the back burner, except for a J-turn in Whitley County, as this study is being conducted.