Enhancing Accessibility, Infrastructure U.S. 30 Upgrade Begins
Limited-Access Freeway Changes Coming to U.S. 30
Bill Konyha, president and CEO of The Regional Chamber of Northeast Indiana, Inc., today responded to the statement by the U.S. 30 Coalition announcing the agreement to begin an environmental review to improve the U.S. 30 corridor from Valparaiso to the Ohio state line.
“When we developed our legislative agenda during the summer of 2020, the members of the Regional Chamber identified the transition of U.S. 30 from a free-flowing highway into a limited-access freeway as the No. 1 transportation issue throughout the region for business retention and attraction efforts,” Konyha said. “Northeast Indiana is the most manufacturing-intensive region in the state and expeditious transport of raw materials, components, and workforce is critical to our economy. “
The project will improve safety and advance the economy of the region and the state. According to an INDOT analysis, the transformation will reduce the number of accidents along the corridor by 323 per year, reduce the number of fatalities by four year by year, create 10,000 new jobs and add $900 million in real personal income growth.
Konyha expressed gratitude for the efforts of the business community of Northeast Indiana, members of the U.S. 30 Coalition, and the members of the Legislative Delegation representing the 11-county region. He noted that this effort was part of the agenda of the Regional Chamber before he joined as the organization’s CEO on Oct. 30, 2017. However, it did not become a legislative priority until January 2020.
Dent Johnson, vice president of Do It Best Corp. and chairperson of the Regional Chamber of Northeast Indiana, Inc. added, “This infrastructure improvement is needed to keep pace with all of the public and private investments being made to make Northeast Indiana one of the premier regions in our state. We are pleased to see the recent progress on this top priority project for our region. We have long counted on the strong collaboration of the private enterprises, associations, and elected officials in Northeast Indiana to deliver results.”
According to Konyha, as many as 20 CEOs from the region met with Gov. Eric Holcomb during a business roundtable discussion in July. They emphasized the critical nature of this upgrade and the necessity for it to happen as soon as possible as we considered it to be “critical world-class infrastructure.”
“The commitment from our Governor and INDOT Commissioner did not happen by accident,” said State Rep. Dave Heine, who along with Sen. Liz Brown coordinated much of this successful process with the Indiana Department of Transportation, Gov. Holcomb, the Legislative Delegation, and The Regional Chamber. “It happened because of the collaboration between our business leaders and our legislators all along the U.S. 30 corridor. “
Sen. Brown, who many say had a “drop the mic” moment to close the December meeting between INDOT officials, Northeast Indiana stakeholders, business leaders, legislators, local elected officials, LEDOs, local chambers of commerce, the Speaker of the House, the Lt. Governor’s office, and others added, “Indiana may be the Crossroads of the Midwest, but the heart runs through Northeast Indiana, via U.S.30. A freeway on U.S. 30 from the Ohio State Line to SR 49 will allow for exponential economic growth that the community needs.”
House Minority Leader Phil GiaQuinta agreed saying, “It is a pleasure to see forward movement on this crucial project due in large part to the cooperation between the U.S. 30 Coalition and INDOT. This study is the first step in making U.S. 30 safer and more efficient for Northeast Indiana residents.”
Warsaw Mayor Joe Thallemer, who serves as president of the U.S. 30 Coalition, announced the agreement with INDOT and expressed gratitude “On behalf of the locally elected officials and representatives that make up the U.S. 30 Coalition, we applaud the decision to initiate a designed solution to improve this critical roadway through our communities.”
Mayor Ryan Daniel of Columbia City said, “Infrastructure continues to be a primary factor in advancing the economy and growing our skilled workforce. This commitment by INDOT is a significant step forward for our region.”
Konyha said that the Regional Chamber was joined by many in support of this project.
John Sampson, president and CEO of the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership said, “U.S. 30 is a critical lifeline in support of the transportation of goods, services, and the products of one of the most manufacturing-intensive regions in Indiana to a global marketplace. The transformation of this corridor into a freeway is a testament to the unified commitment of the business community leaders across Northeast Indiana to step up to meet the needs for both increased safety and efficiency.”
John Urbahns, president and CEO of Greater Fort Wayne, Inc. agreed, stating, “Infrastructure is a major factor when businesses decide where to put down roots. A stronger U.S. 30 means companies can more easily serve a national customer base from right here in Allen County. That makes our community even more attractive as we recruit businesses to grow and add jobs here.”
Konyha emphasized that this is the first critical step in the process and states that we must all be vigilant throughout the PEL (physical environmental linkages) process. The business community advised Gov. Holcomb in a letter to the Governor dated Jan. 18 that, “Members of the private-sector business community, with billions of dollars invested in Northeast Indiana, require this conversion to a limited-access freeway and, frankly cannot settle for anything less.” The Regional Chamber believes that it is critical for the business community, our legislators, our local elected officials and all of the stakeholders to remain engaged throughout the process to be certain that we achieve the outcome we know to be in the best interest of our community.
The Regional Chamber of Northeast Indiana, Inc. provides sustained advocacy to promote an environment in Northeast Indiana in which individuals, businesses, and communities thrive in a global economy. We focus upon supporting the Pillars of 21st Century Talent, World Class Infrastructure, and a Competitive Business Climate.
(Photo by Lpangelrob - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4456338)