Polk County is developing a plan to build a new route around the metro. Today, supervisors approved changes to the original plan for the Northeast Beltway. They voted to narrow the corridor from two miles to 1000 feet. Some area residents are asking the county to put the brakes on the entire highway project.
Right now it’s just a line on a map that stretches from Elkhart to Altoona. One day, a high speed beltway could run parallel to Interstate 35 around the north side of the metro.
“You look at some of the congestion that we see now in some of the western suburbs. There weren’t plans for transportation corridors and that area developed out and now here we are with gridlock,” says Polk County Supervisor Tom Hockensmith.
Hockensmith says county leaders don’t want to make the same mistake so they are planning ahead. The Northeast Beltway is designed to ease traffic congestion if needed down the road.
“We have some of the best farmland in the world here and they just want to cover it up with concrete,” says Elkhart resident Nick Volz.
The county says it is a long way from laying any concrete.
“That a roadway there is imminent is just not accurate. It’s responsible planning for the future. I’ll be long gone probably by the time they build that roadway,” says Hockensmith.
“It might not happen for another 20 years, but we own a century farm and it’s going to affect that,” says Volz.
As long as plans keep moving forward, some of the folks affected will keep fighting the county every step of the way.