Hamlet Interchange Recommended, As U.S. 30 Improvement Discussions Begin

As Starke County prepares to put together its wish list for the proposed upgrade of U.S. 30, one of the things it’ll be pushing for is an interchange at Hamlet. That’s what Starke County Economic Development Foundation Executive Director Charlie Weaver told the Hamlet Town Council Wednesday.

He explained that installing an interchange at Starke Street would be difficult, due to the amount of land that would need to be acquired, but there are other options. “Take an example, where Old 30 meets New 30 east of Hamlet. That might be an opportunity,” he said. “It’s an easy route to the town, plus the schools. So I mean those are things are a long ways out, but the whole idea is, even among ourselves we said, ‘You’ve got to respect Hamlet. You can’t limit it to 35.'” They’re also hoping for an interchange at State Road 23.

A committee of local stakeholders will meet for the first time on October 25. Its goal will be to come up with recommendations for the Indiana Department of Transportation to consider, if and when they decide to upgrade U.S. 30 to freeway standards. Weaver said the members were chosen by the Starke County Commissioners. “We have the gentleman that owns Gun Town. He’s on there. I think we have the fire chiefs from Hamlet and Koontz Lake. We have several farmers that farm on both sides, so we can get their reaction to what’s going on. We have the hospital. We have emergency management. We have a county commissioner, county council, a representative from Knox City Council.”

The Hamlet Town Council’s representative is Brian Earnest. He said he plans to work with the town’s fire department to come up with a list of the routes it uses to respond to different locations. “I know with talking to some of the state people that that’s one of the things, like emergency time is one of the big arguments you want to use,” Earnest said.

Meanwhile, Weaver said that Starke County Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler is doing traffic counts on all the cross streets. “He’s going to be doing it monthly because you’re going to see different traffic counts whether it’s harvest season, whether Hensler’s are having tree sales and that sort of stuff,” he explained. “So we need to have all that data.”

Starke County is a member of the U.S. 30 Coalition, which is advocating for the upgrade of U.S. 30 to freeway standards between Valparaiso and Fort Wayne. The Hamlet Town Council decided Wednesday to move its October 25 meeting to 7:00 p.m., to allow Earnest to attend the committee meeting.