Hoosier Heartland highway now at 'when' stage as it zoons past 'if'

Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman addresses the 27th Annual Hoosier Heartland Industrial Corridor meeting on Friday, Nov. 6, at the Honeywell Center in Wabash.
Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman addresses the 27th Annual Hoosier Heartland Industrial Corridor meeting on Friday, Nov. 6, at the Honeywell Center in Wabash. Photo by Matt Murphy.

The A-7 corridor - the final segment in the Hoosier Heartland highway - was not a topic of discussion at the 27th Annual Hoosier Heartland Industrial Corridor meeting in Wabash on Friday, Nov. 6, but Garry Peterson of William-Lynn-James consulting firm said that the small piece will be built.

"It's not a question of if, but when," Peterson said.

The A-7 is a proposed four-lane highway between Roanoke and the Interstate 469 interchange in Allen County. It effectively would replace County Road 900N as the primary route from Huntington to I-469. To date, it does not have a construction timetable.

The highway was first discussed in 1987 as part of the Hoosier Heartland corridor, which uses U.S.-24 and Ind.-25 to link Fort Wayne and Lafayette. As of November 2009, the road is complete except for the Ind.- 25 section between Logansport and Lafayette.
However, the Ind.-25 leg is entirely planned and mostly under construction. The Indiana Department of Transportation plans on the highway being complete and open for traffic by 2013.

This leaves the A-7 as the only part of the highway not funded or planned by INDOT.

"My understanding is that the state considers (the A-7) to be a local project," said James Earl II of INDOT. "The future of that road depends on what locals present to the state. It is not currently part of the Hoosier Heartland program."

Peterson said that an environmental study was completed in the 1980s for the Roanoke-to-I-469 connector, but it is outdated and needs to be revised.

"The important thing for the county is that in 2013, there will be a major traffic change," Peterson said. "That traffic will be using an unimproved county road."
Peterson said that he is working with local officials and the state to get the road put back on INDOT's agenda. To build the corridor, Peterson said that a heritage wetland area would need to be built along with facilities to preserve the area's history, similar to the Delphi Canal Center in Delphi.

Though the A-7 does not yet have a start date, North-Central Indiana has already seen the economic benefits of the partially complete HHIC.

"We have taken a huge leap forward in the state's economic development," said Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman, the keynote speaker at the meeting. "Other states are dealing with crumbling infrastructure, but our state is light years ahead."

Skillman also commended local government officials and citizens for the push for the highway.

"The entire state has benefited from the local leadership in this part of the state," she said.