VIGO COUNTY, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — Traveling along U.S. 41 in Vigo County means seeing a lot of changes from 10 years ago – and leaders are working on more.
Some examples include the new Menard’s and Casey’s along Jessica Drive, Hobby Lobby now on the west side of the highway, and the Annex apartments across from Indiana State University’s campus.
Weeks ago, Culver’s, which had zero locations in Vigo County in 2013, broke ground on a second Terre Haute restaurant; this one on the Wabash Valley Fairgrounds property.
A lot of growth and movement continues along Vigo County’s stretch of U.S. 41, but with that progress comes more traffic in the area, something the Indiana Department of Transportation notices.
“It’s really exciting for residents in the area, more food options, but it’s going to add to that congestion” INDOT Public Relations Director Megan DeLucenay said. “That’s definitely, we need to make some improvements in that area.”
Indiana Criminal Justice Institute data shows the following statistics for wrecks along the stretch of U.S. 41 between Jessica Drive and Maple Avenue (roughly 8.6 miles) from 2013-2023:
- PROPERTY DAMAGE WRECKS: 1,344
- SEVERE PERSONAL INJURIES: 286
- FATALITIES: 5
Vigo County leaders have been pushed by the community to address these issues.
“When I became commissioner about two years ago a lot of people reached out to me,” Vigo County Commissioner Chris Switzer said. “They could never see any improvements along (U.S.) 41, especially between Chick-Fil-A and Towne South Plaza.”
Several proposals have been made and discussed over the last few years regarding that section of U.S. 41, but the recent construction of Culver’s had led county and city leaders to the most recent plan as they worked with Culver’s owner Matt Bilyeu to address how best to address the traffic patterns outside the future restaurant.
“He needed a new entrance at the fairgrounds,” Switzer explained. “But INDOT wasn’t okay with there being another main entrance close to the stoplight in front of the fairgrounds. So what we have done is moved that stoplight about 400 feet to the north at what is a road called Hospital Lane between Harley Davidson and McAllister’s Deli.”
Switzer said the latest negotiations include turn lanes in and out of both locations from U.S. 41 and the Wabash Valley Fairgrounds and said the changes will make it a lot safer for people driving in the area.
With the stoplight’s placement at Hospital Lane, first responders would have a clearer path to and from emergency situations.
“With the traffic over there right now, it’s hard for an ambulance to turn north or south off of Hospital Lane,” Switzer said. “Having a stoplight there will make thing a lot safer for everybody that has to get to the hospital, and even those businesses that need a little bit better, safer access, it’ll be better for them, too.”
Switzer added that these current negotiations signify attention being brought to residents’ concerns over local roads.
“It seems like INDOT is focusing more on four-lane highways with intersections and the safety hazards and the things that can be improved,” Switzer said. “So I would say Terre Haute is, you know, at the top of the list for making those improvements. We’re excited and hopefully this fall we’ll see some action on several different things.”
There is no current timeline or budget for a project involving movement of the stoplight at the Wabash Valley Fairgrounds. Mywabashvalley.com will continue to follow this story.