Good news for buggy drivers in a corner of northern Indiana. New buggy lanes are being installed in the Elkhart-LaGrange community. From The Goshen News:

“We’re widening both traffic lanes from 10 feet to 12 feet wide,” Weirick said. “At the same time, the new buggy lanes on either side of the road will improve safety for our Amish citizens who use the road as much as anyone else.”

The $6.2 million project will include major improvements in drainage and new turn lanes at key intersections along the 2-mile stretch. The work, which is already underway, is expected to be complete by Oct. 1.

This is on a stretch of road which I’ve highlighted in red below. It covers two miles on County Road 38 between CR 31 and CR 35.

I lived in Goshen about 15 years ago though didn’t travel this particular stretch of road too frequently. This is presumably intended for those Amish traveling to and from Goshen, on what is called by the head of the Elkhart County Highway Department a “heavily-traveled section of road”. The city is home to RV plants, a hospital, and a large Wal-Mart which would be most easily reached using CR 38 to go into town. The Amish area basically begins once you leave Goshen heading east.

This is a definite positive for road safety in the area, so good to see. But it also illustrates why extensive buggy lanes are just not feasible for most of the roughly 600 Amish settlements across North America. Just 2 miles of lanes costs over $6 million here (by the project’s description, that money is not just for buggy lanes, but also includes additional items which inevitably go along with improvement projects, like turn lanes, drainage, etc).

This means that when they do go in, it’s on the most heavily-traveled or treacherous stretches of road, in the largest communities. The newish one- or two-district Amish community in a heavily rural county is not getting a project like this, and the finances involved should make the reason why clear. Nor are the more rural stretches of country road in this same Elkhart-LaGrange settlement (like the one in the photo just above) going to get buggy lanes.

To give some further perspective, below I’ve given the approximate area of the Elkhart-LaGrange Amish settlement (note: I had to use a rectangular shape and so this is quite rough. So there are Amish likely living outside the general boundaries here and I took in some edge areas with few Amish. But this gives you a decent idea of where the bulk of the Amish in the third-largest settlement live).

There are some roads which already do have buggy lanes, like State Route 5 which goes north-south through the center of the community. Still, any additional lanes in well-thought-out places surely will be appreciated by both buggy and car drivers alike.

Northern Indiana Amish images: buggy lanes – Jim Halverson; rural buggy traffic – David Arment

Amish-made cheese


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