Elkhart County Plans To Install "Buggy Lanes" On County Roads


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Elkhart County Plans To Install "Buggy Lanes" On County Roads

Commissioners say the lanes will cut down on traffic accidents and congestion on busy county roads in Elkhart County

ELKHART COUNTY, Ind. -- Commissioners in Elkhart County are moving forward with a plan to install buggy lanes on a couple busy county roads.

The project would put an exclusive lane on these county roads specifically for horse and buggies, which are used to get around by a majority of the county's Amish community. County commissioner Mike Yoder said they are getting some help from the federal government on the project.

The state already has buggy lanes on state highways in high Amish population areas such as Parke, LaGrange, and Elkhart Counties.

"We've got some federal monies to help offset this cost," Yoder said. "For every 80-dollars we get from the feds we'll supply another 20, so it's that kind of percentage split."

Elkhart County has the sixth highest Amish population in the state, according to Yoder.

Yoder said the main artery they plan to install these buggy lanes on is a heavily traveled three-mile stretch of County Road 40 in Elkhart County. Yoder said accidents between cars and buggies have played a role in moving to install these lanes. 

Yoder said the lanes will be expensive to install, even with the federal help. But, it seems to be an investment the tax payers of Elkhart County are willing to take on.

"There's 30,000 to 40,00 people that travel into and out of the county every day to work," said Yoder. "Amish buggies are an impediment to traffic moving smoothly. These lanes will help cut down on traffic back ups along this particular stretch of county road."

However, one hang up Yoder has is the longevity of the lanes. He said the sect of Amish people in Elkhart County are "more liberal or progressive" than others and that many of them drive trucks and cars to get around. 

"Part of the problem for me from a policy perspective is: What if buggies become less and less utilized by the Amish and they start driving more and more vehicles in the future?," Yoder explained. "So how much money should we invest in buggy lanes?"

Yoder said either way the lanes are happening and they plan to start installing buggy lanes on a few county roads by 2020.

(PHOTO: Jeff Greenberg/Getty Images)

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