Uncertainty about the future of U.S. 30 is making it hard for Hamlet to attract businesses, according to Town Council President Dave Kesvormas. During last week’s meeting, he said that local officials have been told that INDOT wants to upgrade U.S. 30 to freeway standards, but now, they’re hearing proposals for a J-turn intersection at State Road 39.
“When I talk to people that are interested in building, one fast food chain said, ‘I would love to be in Hamlet on 30, but I don’t know what’s going to happen over there,'” Kesvormas said.
He didn’t see how installing J-turns fit with the goal of turning U.S. 30 into a freeway. “INDOT was the one that came out and said that they’re going to push for this project to be from [State Road] 49 to [Interstate] 69 and it was going to be interstate standards, we’re going to be doing some reroutes, and there were all these public hearings,” Kesvormas added. “So all these folks that have gone to public hearings, is it a waste?”
Ron Gifford with the Starke County Economic Development Foundation said that the U.S. 30 freeway project appears to have fallen slightly on INDOT’s priority list, but progress continues to be made. “This county and Whitley County have done all of the homework,” he said. “There’s all kinds of information about how many cars cross the road at any intersection where we have that. We were way ahead of anybody else.”
Gifford had his doubts that J-turns will actually get built at U.S. 30 and State Road 39, noting the fierce local opposition as well as the viability of the freeway proposal.