Highway Will Better Connect Wabash to Cities

September 4th, 2013

News Coverage:

Highway Will Better Connect Wabash to Cities

Posted: Wednesday, September 4, 2013 4:00 am

by Eric Seaman, eseaman@wabashplaindealer.com

The Hoosier Heartland Highway Corridor, which will extend 200 miles from Lafayette to Toledo, Ohio, is set to be completed later this year, according to the Indiana Department of Transportation.

The project, which will connect I-65 to I-69 and Ohio largely by means of U.S. 24, is a big asset to Wabash, according to Bill Konyha, President and CEO of the Economic Development Group of Wabash County.

“It’s a game changer. Now all of a sudden we’re not accessible only by two-lane highways and roads,” Konyha said. “We’ll have access to Indianapolis and Chicago without stopping. We pretty much have an interstate highway.

“We’ve had nice access to Fort Wayne and Logansport. Now, we can take four-lane highways and wind up on I-69 or I-65 and go to Mexico or as far north as you can go.”

The highway will not only allow drivers to reach their destinations elsewhere, but will also help bring people, jobs and new businesses to the area as well, Mayor Robert Vanlandingham said.

“I think Wabash is going to survive and grow,” Vanlandingham said. “We’ll have access to other economies and other regions…It will privilege us with a high level of safety and access and the quality of life will go up.

“We’re going to survive as a rural community. (To do so), we need to have access to other communities and the highway will do that. Also, in terms of economic development, it will make things much better.

“When businesses look at places to move, they want to find a place they can move their stuff as quickly as possible and they see Ind. 13 and Ind. 15 and they know they can do that.”

Konyha agrees with Vanlandingham on the jobs it will bring to the area.

“It will help us attract more logistics, distribution and food processing businesses,” Konyha said. “It will make it so much easier to get our goods to market. The two things that attract businesses are available existing buildings and access to major highways. That’s partially how we were able to attract national distribution for Living Essentials and Advanced Ag Resources.

“We’ve been pitching this corridor for a couple of years now and we’re talking to a couple of businesses now. Today, without a four-lane highway within 10 miles of a town, you’re dead.”

Vanlandingham also sees U.S. 24 as an upgrade from the road he used growing up in the area.

“I was raised around here. I remember the accidents on old U.S. 24. It was curvy, had only two lanes just wasn’t safe,” he said. “This new highway is going to change that. It goes right through the heart of Indiana and it’s going to be a safe one.

“It’s great to sit back, living in this community, watching it grow and being its mayor,” Vanlandingham added. “It’s fantastic. We should all be proud of it being completed.”

The ribbon cutting on the final leg of the road linking Logansport to Delphi will be on Oct. 23.