NIRPC adopts $40.6 million U.S. 30 safety plan

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us 30 at southlake mall
U.S. 30 at Southlake Mall in Merrillville (Google Maps)

The Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission (NIRPC) has adopted a $40.6 million plan to make U.S. 30 safer for non-motorists and motorists alike.

The conceptual plan, based on a 210-page study, can now be made part of the 2040 Comprehensive Regional Plan and be eligible for funding to begin future implementation, NIRPC chairman Michael Griffin said, nwi.com reports.

RATIO Architects and civil engineers Butler, Fairman & Seufert wrote the safety study, covering the highway in both Hobart and Merrillville from 73rd Ave. to 93rd Ave. and Clay St. to Merrillville Rd. with focus on U.S. 30.

Lesley Roth, senior urban planner for RATIO Architects, said the study’s impact included 220 online survey responses, public workshops, business leader workshops and steering committee meetings in both communities.

Federal, state and local funding would be sought for the the plan’s various projects, which would be undertaken as funding becomes available, NIRPC planning manager Eman Ibrahim said.

The interviews at Southlake Mall were particularly insightful and included people from all over who drive along U.S. 30 in order to dine, shop or go to entertainment venues, Roth said. “What we heard is traffic is the greatest challenge,” Roth said.

Study goals included:

  • Rain-garden style medians on U.S. 30;
  • Native plantings at the Interstate 65 and U.S. 30 interchange;
  • Plantings along the new trails;
  • 12 miles of new walking/biking trails
  • Improved signage and wayfinding;
  • Evaluation of interconnectedness of signals and signal timing
  • Six at-grade highway crossings;
  • Four grade-separated highway crossings;
  • A new trailhead south of U.S. 30;
  • Extensions of 78th Place in the Silverstone Crossings development, and of 93rd Ave. to Colorado St., as well as other local roadwork; and
  • Relocating utility lines along the north side of U.S. 30 out of sight of the roadway

Merrillville Town Councilman Richard Hardaway, who serves on the NIRPC commission, said he completely supports the plan since it will mean an improved quality of life for residents. That includes those who ride bikes out of necessity or for exercise on U.S. 30.

Hardaway disputed comments made by fellow NIRPC commission member State Rep. Ed Soliday, R-4th, who felt the plan included too much emphasis on bicyclists riding through the corridor. “I don’t know anyone who will ride their bike down U.S. 30,” Soliday said.

Ibrahim said only a small percentage of the project is geared toward bicyclists.

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