PERU — A public hearing has been set on a proposal to build a J-turn intersection at U.S. 24 and Ind. 19 after the state announced it was pushing pause on the controversial intersections on U.S. 31.
The hearing is set for 6 p.m. Thursday inside the community building at the Miami County Fairgrounds, located at 1029 W. 200 North. Doors will open at 5 p.m. to give participants time to view displays and talk to project representatives.
The proposed project would close the median at the intersection and bar left turns onto U.S. 24. Drivers would instead turn right onto U.S. 24 into a dedicated lane and then make a U-turn.
There will be no access to Lovers Lane north of U.S. 24. Lovers Lane Road south of the highway will be converted to a “right-in, right-out” only access point.
INDOT said the goal of the Miami County J-turn is “to enhance safety at the intersection by reducing the frequency and severity of vehicular collisions at this location.”
“This alternative will reduce conflict points and thereby increase safety at this location by removing the ability for traffic on S.R. 19 to cross U.S. 24 to make left turns,” INDOT said in a release.
The state said the proposed J-turn on U.S. 24 will not require permanent or temporary new right-of-way, impact wetlands or affect historic properties.
INDOT said access to properties will be maintained at all times during construction, and the state will coordinate with emergency services, local school corporation officials and project stakeholders to ensure potential disruptions and impacts are minimized as much as possible.
Proposed construction is anticipated to begin in the spring of 2022, and would be done utilizing phased construction.
The proposal comes after the Indiana Department of Transportation started construction last year on a J-turn intersection on U.S. 24 in Wabash County after residents there fought to stop the installation of the intersection.
The state first proposed installing J-turns in Miami County in 2017, when INDOT announced plans to eliminate the traffic lights along U.S. 31 at the intersections of Ind. 218 North junction and Ind. 18 and install median U-turns.
That proposal drew unanimous and fierce criticism from residents, county officials and state legislators during an hours-long public hearing, which led INDOT to pull the project.
That was followed by INDOT last year again proposing to install six J-turns on U.S. 31.
Officials and residents again pushed back on the project, including 14 entities signing a joint resolution opposing the J-turns. A petition with more than 1,500 signatures from citizens opposing the intersections was also sent to the state by a group called Citizens Against J-turns.
INDOT then announced in December those plans are off the table as the state launches a new study to reevaluate how to alter the intersections to meet INDOT’s long-term goal of turning U.S. 31 into a free-flowing highway with no traffic lights.