Porter County intends to proceed with a Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)-funded project involving the extension of Willowcreek Road, from US 30 to CR 700 N, in west-central Porter County, Indiana. The proposed project is located within the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission (NIRPC) planning area. Preliminary corridor studies have identified an approximate 2.5-mile-wide corridor generally bounded by CR 750 W to the west and CR 475 W to the east and their respective intersections with US 30 to establish roadway alignment alternatives for the project. After a year and a half of analysis, evaluation, and information derived from federal, state, and local agencies, Alignment A-1 was recommended as the preferred alignment. The proposed roadway would have a design speed of 55 miles per hour and would have a typical roadway section of two 12-foot-wide travel lanes (one northbound and one southbound) with 10-foot-wide paved shoulders. A 10-foot-wide multi-use path would be incorporated along the project corridor. A combination of open shoulder, curb and gutter, enclosed storm sewer, and roadside ditches are proposed. Additionally, the roadway would be developed with a 100-foot-wide dedicated right-of-way as well as a 10-foot wide dedicated utility easement. It is anticipated that work to complete the project would require the acquisition of new permanent and temporary right-of-way and potential relocations. The roadway would mainly be constructed along new alignment and would incorporate reconstructed county roads where feasible, depending on the recommended alternative.
The recommended alignment, Alignment A-1, will begin at US 30, approximately 0.38 mile east of CR 725 W, continue north for approximately 1.45 miles before curving slightly northeast and continuing for approximately 0.85 mile where it will align with Jones Road. The alignment will continue along the current Jones Road alignment crossing over the Chicago, Fort Wayne and Eastern Railroad line and Norfolk Southern Railroad tracks. The roadway then curves slightly east, away from the Jones Road alignment, and continues north until tying into the existing intersection of Willowcreek Road and CR 700 N.
The Porter County Board of Commissioners would like to update the community regarding the selection of a recommended alignment for the Willowcreek Road Extension project (Des. No. 1700500). The recommended alignment, Alignment A-1, will begin at US 30, approximately 0.38 mile east of CR 725 W, continue north for approximately 1.45 miles before curving slightly northeast and continuing for approximately 0.85 mile where it will align with Jones Road. The alignment will continue along the current Jones Road alignment crossing over the Chicago, Fort Wayne and Eastern Railroad line (CFWER) and Norfolk Southern Railroad (NSR) tracks. The roadway then curves slightly east, away from the Jones Road alignment, and continues north until tying into the existing intersection of Willowcreek Road and CR 700 N. The Willowcreek Road extension will improve regional connectivity and operational traffic flow by providing a direct north-south route in Porter County, generally between US 30 (Valparaiso-Merrillville corridor) and Portage.
Alignment A-1 was recommended after a year and a half of analysis, evaluation, and input gathering from federal, state, and local agencies; adjacent residents; stakeholders; and other interested parties. Alignment A-1 best addresses the purpose and need of the project while balancing the impacts in the project area.
Six alternative alignments (as presented at the September 30, 2020 public information meeting) were identified and studied to determine which would be most appropriate for the extension. In balancing the considerations in the process of determining a preliminary recommended alignment, meeting the purpose and need of the project was first considered and then engineering and environmental considerations were evaluated.
Information was also derived from the public through forums including a public comment portal located at www.willowcreekextension.com, direct email comments, a public meeting, and a community advisory committee meeting. Additional information was derived from discussions with resource agencies in the form of a Resource Agency Meeting.
Preliminary analysis revealed that Alignment A-1 would likely require two business relocations, and is the only alignment that would not require any residential relocations. Alignment A-1 would impact 21 parcels, provide the best access to existing drainage facilities for stormwater outlets, and is anticipated to require the fewest number of utility relocations. This alignment also provides opportunities for future water utility extensions, as an existing water main is located on the west side of Wheeler. Additionally, Alignment A-1 is anticipated to impact the least amount of wetlands out of all six alignments. Alignment A-1 would utilize an existing at grade crossing of the CFWER line at its intersection with County Road (CR) 625 W. Lastly, as determined during project coordination with representatives in the local Porter County community, Alignment A-1 is one of the alignment alternatives preferred by local emergency services based on its more direct alignment with existing Willowcreek Road.
Due to the involvement of federal funds, Alignment A-1 will now be carried forward and evaluated in more detail in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Additionally, compliance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), which requires federal agencies to take into account the effects of their undertakings on historic and archaeological properties, is also required. Alignment A-1 will be the basis for further detailed design, analysis, and development of the project. In forthcoming project coordination, opportunities to provide input on potential cultural resources and the effects the project may have on those resources will be requested. In addition, a public hearing will be scheduled to give the public an opportunity to provide feedback and comments on the recommended alignment.
It is anticipated that the public hearing will be held in the fall/winter of 2022. Prior to the public hearing, a legal notice discussing the date, time, and location will be advertised in the NWI Times. Additionally, the legal notice will be distributed to property owners within and adjacent to the proposed project area.
Visit the link below to review the newsletter describing the preferred alignment. We look forward to meeting with you later this year. Thank you for your interest in the Willowcreek Road Extension project!
Virtual Open House
Willowcreek Road Preferred Alignment Newsletter
Preferred Alignment Map
Press Release for 9/30/2020 Public Meeting (English)
Press Release for 9/30/2020 Public Meeting (Spanish)
Study Area Map
Alternatives Screening Matrix
American Structurepoint, Inc.
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