Officials throughout Miami County have begun adding their voices to opposition of the state’s plans to build unpopular intersections in Miami County as part of the overall effort to streamline traffic flow on U.S. 31.
First among those are Peru Mayor Miles Hewitt, the Peru City Council and the Miami County Board of Commissioners, all of whom on Monday put their name to a joint resolution opposing what are often referred to as “J-turns” in the county.
“We are trying to put together a resolution that includes all of the elected and appointed bodies across Miami County opposing J-turns on U.S. 31,” Jim Tidd told the Miami County Commissioners ahead of their vote at their Monday morning meeting.
Tidd, who serves as executive director of the Miami County Economic Development Authority and is part of the U.S. 31 Coalition – a group of U.S. 31 corridor stakeholders – said the plan is to circulate the resolution to area school boards, fire departments, law enforcement agencies and town boards to gather a collective voice against the intersections that can then be sent to State Rep. Ethan Manning and State Sen. Stacey Donato. The goal, he told the Tribune on Tuesday, is to then deliver the message to Gov. Eric Holcomb.
This is not the first time the intersections have met with opposition in the county. The Indiana Department of Transportation first floated the idea years ago and several showed up to a public meeting in 2017 to say they didn’t believe the intersections – which function much like a controlled U-turn for vehicles who would otherwise need to make a left hand turn on the divided, four-lane highway – would work on a highway that is expected to see increased traffic flow.
The proposals resurfaced earlier this year when INDOT published its updated plan for streaming U.S. 31 by removing traffic lights and surface-level railroad crossings.
Published in that plan were the designations to change at least six Miami County intersections to J-turns, or what INDOT is calling “reduced conflict intersections.”
Those include the intersections at County Road 800 S, CR 850 S, State Road 218 W, SR 218 E, CR 100 N, and SR 16.
Though Tidd has said he is generally supportive of the plans to improve traffic flow on U.S. 31 and has cited perceived advantages and benefits when it comes to economic development for the region, he said he would prefer that state officials leave J-turns out of the local plans given the amount of traffic, expected increased traffic and the high speeds traveled on the highway.
On Monday, Tidd echoed many of the same safety concerns when he appeared before both the county commissioners and the Peru City Council.
“We are not saying that J-turns do not work,” he said at the county meeting. “We just don’t think they work in Miami County.”
He told the Tribune on Tuesday that he would prefer that the state move ahead with building the full interchanges at State Road 18 and Business 31 as planned but not build the J-turns at the other intersections in lieu of further study as to how to handle those intersections.
“And then do an evaluation,” he said.