By DAVE KITCHELL
Opnion Page Editor
“You can’t get there from here.” That tongue-in-cheek line has been used thousands of times by plenty of people. There is no truth in it. You can get just about anywhere you want to go. Even private citizens can get to space if they’re willing to pay the Russians enough to take them there.
That phrase usually applies to situations where getting from Point A to Point B is made difficult because there is no direct route. Instead, the people moving between points take on a route some people would call “circuitous.” For example, it’s like flying to Indianapolis to get to Chicago. You have to travel so many miles in the wrong direction to catch transportation to go in another direction.
“You can’t get there from here” thinking really applies in the east end of Logansport, and it’s raising three issues for the future development of the area between Logansport and Peru.
In the past five years, local officials led by the late Jim Weaver attempted to remedy the problem of a bypass bypassing the prime retail and lodging area of the community by planning a north/south corridor connecting the four-lane Hoosier Heartland Corridor with the area surrounding the Logansport Mall. Last month, County Engineer Jodi Coblentz announced that local officials had put those plans on hold while they examine other corridors. Meanwhile, east end businesses have to be wondering if they will be left to twist in the wind and depend on local consumers instead of those from out of town who may be looking for a Logansport exit. Right now, negotiating access to lodging, gas and restaurants in Logansport is not as easy as it is in say Peru, Wabash or Huntington. In fact, you can drive the entire length of the corridor through Cass County and not even see a gas station.
There are three issues confronting future development, and all three may come to a head with the north/south corridor project.
1. The end of the east end. It probably will not happen, but the eastward expansion of Logansport that spawned three retail centers and stretched the city limits from Manor Motel east to the Mike Anderson auto dealership may be over for the near future. What that means however is that the city could ultimately lose part of its tax base if developers choose to locate in unincorporated areas off the Hoosier Heartland Corridor. It also means more infrastructure costs could be in the offing for LMU if there is development along the Heartland. Retailers also could be hurting and that would force them to consider relocating along the highway where most big box store companies like to build.
2. Relocating Norfolk Southern. It had to seem almost improbable when Lafayette officials suggested it, but railroad relocation has worked for our neighbors in Lafayette. Local officials are exploring the elimination of the Norfolk Southern crossing at 18th Street, but that doesn’t solve the problem of Norfolk Southern’s bottleneck at the more heavily traveled Biddle’s Island viaduct which constricts to three lanes from four-lanes on both sides. It also does not eliminate the viaduct on South Cicott Street which is always a hazard for trucks and public safety vehicles. Relocating the train line along the corridor from the Cass/Miami County line to Tyson Foods would eliminate nuclear waste from traveling through downtown Logansport and it would make it easier to access river banks for future city parks needs such as soccer and baseball fields that have been proposed. It might also enhance property values along Erie and Woodlawn avenues.
3. A Logansport-to-Peru trail. The Wabash River Heritage Corridor has promoted trails in the 19 counties along the state river, but making that connection between the two largest cities in the Logansport area will not be an easy task. However, if there is railroad relocation, a trail utilizing Logansport Road to the Cass/Miami County line at New Waverly and on to 18th Street would be a more natural route. It also would free up an easement for utilities officials to extend water and sewer lines to customers along Pottawattomie Road where failed septic systems have been a past issue and limestone deposits make installing conventional water and sewer lines cost prohibitive. Using the rail right-of-way would be the cheapest, and probably safest way to connect the cities, and there are already trails in the works north from Logansport to Winamac and from Peru north to Rochester and south to Converse.
Can we get there from where we are now? Good question. Coming up with the road map or the plan is the next step, and the answers are long-term and expensive.
By DAVE KITCHELL