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Porter County continues preparing for Willowcreek Rd extension but opposition remains

A proposed 4.6-mile extension would take Willowcreek Road to U.S. 30 in Porter County.
screenshot from Willowcreek Road Extension video presentation
A proposed 4.6-mile extension would take Willowcreek Road to U.S. 30 in Porter County.

Porter County is inching forward with a project to extend Willowcreek Road south to U.S. 30, although it remains far from certain.

County officials took another look at extending State Road 149 instead, after residents voiced concern with the Willowcreek Road extension. But Development & Storm Water Director Bob Thompson says that wouldn't be a viable alternative, based on a regional corridor study by the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission (NIRPC).

"Willowcreek Road came out number three priority in the region. . . . A 149 connection was 21 out of 22," Thompson told the commissioners last week.

He said the county could ask to move the millions of dollars allocated for Willowcreek to State Road 149, but he didn't think that was likely to be approved by NIRPC or the federal government. The commissioners agreed to seek quotes for a study on a potential overlay ordinance, to guide future land use along the planned extension.

But opposition remains.

Jean Hardesty doesn't want to see a new road built on her family's 124-year-old farm. "I will never accept this because — you know what? You are taking our land," Hardesty told the commissioners. "You are taking our land. You are using eminent domain to put in a road that makes no sense."

Commissioner Jim Biggs said he'd oppose the use of eminent domain to get the necessary land. "If we can't make a case to you and the other property owners as to why we need to go through there and you're willing to let us go through there, that's where I stop," Biggs told Hardesty. "I'm not going to take your land."

He stressed that no final decision has been made on whether to build the Willowcreek Road extension.