WARSAW — Mayor Joe Thallemer, who heads up the seven-county US 30 Coalition, met with State Sen. Ryan Mishler on Thursday, May 30, to discuss having state money set aside for an environmental impact study — the first major step toward constructing a new limited-access freeway that would eventually replace US 30 across much of northern Indiana.
Thallemer trekked down to Indianapolis several times in recent months, pressing lawmakers to set aside money for an environmental study, but progress has been slow, in part because lawmakers have sought to finish construction on US 31 and I-69 before dedicating additional money for another huge highway project.
Mishler was asked about the future highway — which is still not even a designated project for INDOT — during a meeting at the Kosciusko Chamber of Commerce Thursday, alongside State Rep. David Wolkins.
The General Assembly wrapped up work last month without dedicating any money for the long-term project, which still has not been officially sanctioned by the Indiana Department of Transportation.
Mishler, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said he plans to “circle back” and talk with INDOT officials to learn more about a timeline for conducting an environmental study. One concern is that if the study is done too soon and the project lags, the state might have to redo the study.
Apparently, the US 31 and I-69 projects might not be done for another five to seven years.
Wolkins said officials in Indianapolis have mentioned a goal of completing the US 30 project by 2032.
Mishler, a Republican from Bremen whose district includes US 30, said he’s been told safety concerns along the highway in Kosciusko County have made it a priority. Thallemer, not wanting to appear to be overplaying his hand as chairman of the coalition, said any decision to prioritize construction work in Kosciusko County would be made by INDOT and others.
The portion of US 30 across Kosciusko County has a large number of intersections and driveways compared to the other six counties, and Warsaw has seen a significant spike in traffic accidents along the highway at several intersections in recent years.
Citing traffic accident studies, Thallemer has been pressing state officials to move quickly on identifying US 30 as an official project. He said he wants to line up money for the environmental study now so that it’s ready to be used once the other highway projects are complete.
Local officials are developing three options for the state to consider. One would track along the current path of US 30 while the others would curve around the city to the north or south.
Thallemer said they plan to host public meetings on the three proposals later this year.