Upgrading U.S. 30 to freeway standards would have a big impact on the Town of Hamlet. Starke County Economic Development Foundation officials say they’re working to make sure it’s positive, rather than negative.
During his report to the Hamlet Town Council Wednesday, SCEDF Board President Larry Wickert said the upgrade would make the area much more attractive to new industries. “That’s what we get from a lot of these requests, is they want to have an interstate or a freeway within five to 15 miles,” he explained. “And that’s why the foundation feels it’s important to support the upgrade on U.S. 30, is because we can’t attract businesses very well if we don’t have an upgraded road or freeway.”
Wickert added that Sysco’s desire to sell its Hamlet property creates an especially good opportunity for the town. “The best spot that the county has is that Sysco property because 30 as it is, is a good road, and you’ve got rail right there,” he said. “So I would think our best place to bring those businesses in is right there, and we’ve got 300-some acres to market now.”
But a lot of the opportunities for Hamlet would depend upon the placement of interchanges along U.S. 30. If Hamlet doesn’t get its own interchange, Wickert said county roads might be upgraded, so trucks could get to the Starke County Co-Op grain elevator and other businesses. “We’re looking at, maybe we’d upgrade 600 or that other road that runs along there,” he told council members. “We’re looking into that. And maybe use those – if they got off of 30 and had another road to come right into town, it would be a little better, maybe, than using 500. 500 costs more to get it upgraded because you go over some muck soils, and it’s going to take more fill to stabilize it.”
A group of local stakeholders is being assembled to help figure out how to make the project work best for Starke County and offer those recommendations to the Indiana Department of Transportation. Council member Brian Earnest has agreed to represent the Town of Hamlet.