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Jennings Sunday: Three options chosen for U.S. 50 bypass

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NORTH VERNON — Three potential routes for the U.S. 50 bypass in North Vernon have been identified by the Indiana Department of Transportation.

The three routes follow two different corridors.

East from State Road 3, where construction ends for the western section of the bypass. After crossing County Road 20W, it turns north to follow County Road 350N between the golf course and the state forest. The road continues across the Muscatatuck River and then begins heading south as it joins County Road 175E. The road bridges over the CSX rail line near Rose Acre Farms and then bends to the east to rejoin the existing U.S. 50.

East from State Road 3, then turning south to join County Road 20W. Near the quarry, the road turns to the southeast to cross over the river and the railroad, rejoining existing U.S. 50 near Deer Creek Road.

East from State Road 3 before it reaches the quarry and then to the southeast to cross the river and the railroad at their closest point with a single bridge, before rejoining existing U.S. 50 near Deer Creek Road.

INDOT officials say all three options will be studied and refined during the next three months.

The decision-making process used environmental and engineering data as well as input from the public and regulatory agencies.

“We have appreciated the input and support this project has received from the community and its leaders,” said Jim Earl, INDOT’s project manager.

He said input will helped the team ensure the project meets the community’s goals.

Earl said the three options provide the best balanced transportation and community needs while minimizing social, economic and environmental effects.

INDOT officials say they also believe each proposed route would create a safe, efficient roadway that would address the project goals of improving traffic flow and safety for U.S. 50. State officials also considered long-range county and state goals for the corridor.

The team that selected the choices considered the potential for effects to resources such as wetlands, streams, forest habitat, historic architecture and community facilities. Another consideration was engineering challenges that result from the varied terrain.

Now that the choices have been narrowed, the team will begin detailed environmental and engineering analyses.

State law allows project staff to enter private property to conduct surveys for wetlands, streams and archaeological resources.

Property owners were sent information regarding this work and the potential need to be on their land.

Surveys will begin this week and will continue for several weeks, depending on weather and other factors.

The purpose of the U.S. 50 Bypass is to improve traffic operation in and around North Vernon and increase accessibility to existing and potential growth areas. The project proposes a new limited-access, two-lane roadway that would bypass downtown North Vernon to the north.

The western section, located between County Road 400W and State Road 3, is scheduled to open late next year. Construction on the eastern section is scheduled to begin in early 2014 with the completed bypass opening to traffic by the end of 2015.

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