Farmer Al Hay gazes Thursday at a section of his LaPorte farm that a proposed bypass would bisect. Staff photo by Robert Franklin
Farmer Al Hay gazes Thursday at a section of his LaPorte farm that a proposed bypass would bisect. Staff photo by Robert Franklin
LAPORTE — In jest, Al Hay wonders if the government will buy him a helicopter to reach a corner of his 160-acre farm that would be cut off if a new highway curves — as proposed — through his neat square of land.

The highway has been kicked around for some 50 years, now closer to reality than it’s ever been. The roughly 8-mile road would divert traffic around the eastern half of the city. Officials argue that they need to keep semi-truck traffic from rumbling through the downtown area coming from U.S. 35, Indiana 2 and Indiana 39 as they hook up to the Indiana Toll Road to the north.

City Engineer Nick Minich said that traffic could only worsen if industrial development grows, for example, at the Kingsbury Industrial Park south of the city. That wouldn’t bode well for the city’s desire for a more pedestrian friendly downtown where, for years, officials talked about car mirrors that snapped because of passing trucks.

But several farmers aren’t ready to shave off their land and potentially lose income.

About 15 years ago, Hay recalled, a group of Illinois lawyers offered him $19,000 an acre for his land to build a subdivision. He turned them down.
Copyright © 2021, South Bend Tribune