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Big change ahead for U.S. 40?

By DARRELL SMITH - dsmith@newsexaminer.com

CAMBRIDGE CITY — An Indiana Department of Transportation plan to change U.S. 40 through Cambridge City has made at least one downtown business owner unhappy.

U.S. 40, which is Main Street in Cambridge City, has been four traffic lanes through the historic downtown as long as people can remember. A plan on the drawing board calls for changing that to two lanes with a center turn lane, according to Beth Leisure, Cambridge City Chamber of Commerce president and owner of the National Road Antique Mall. She said the plan is to make that change all the way to the west side of Richmond.

She wants local residents to attend a Town Council meeting at 6 p.m. Monday, saying that representatives of INDOT will attend to talk about the plan.

“All these little towns, if they are not two lanes, they are trying to make them two lanes,” Leisure said. “I asked (state Sen.) Jeff Raatz and he said they are working on their own on this and not saying a lot. He doesn’t even know what’s going on and why they’re doing it.”

The plan does not change the road’s width from curb to curb, so she questions why the change is being considered.

“They don’t do business down here; we have a thriving downtown that hosts a lot of people every day,” she said. “If they’re going to grind up a lane and not have it any more that’s one thing, but if they’re coming through the downtown and it’s the same surface, I just don’t understand why they have to do that.”

If Interstate 70 is closed for an accident, traffic is rerouted to U.S. 40 through the downtown and that would be a lot of traffic for two lanes, she said. Wide loads come through town on U.S. 40 and take up two lanes; that would stop traffic if the road is reduced to two lanes.

“I’m not so sure they haven’t just made their minds up and they will listen but do what they want,” Leisure said.

Town Council will meet at 6 p.m. Monday at Cambridge City Town Hall, 127 N. Foote St. The public may attend.

The Indiana Department of Transportation did not return the Connersville News-Examiner’s requests for comment.