A horse and buggy travels on County Road 16 near Middlebury on Feb. 1. Elkhart County officials are planning to add a 3-mile buggy lane along Country Road 40 in the western part of the county. Staff photo by Michael Caterina
A horse and buggy travels on County Road 16 near Middlebury on Feb. 1. Elkhart County officials are planning to add a 3-mile buggy lane along Country Road 40 in the western part of the county. Staff photo by Michael Caterina
GOSHEN — Drivers visiting Elkhart County may face an unexpected situation when they find themselves maneuvering on a highway next to a horse and buggy.

Home to the third-largest Amish settlement in the United States, the county has struggled with horse-and-buggy safety on busy Indiana roads. In 2018, the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Department recorded 18 crashes between cars and buggies throughout the county.

In response to these dangers, the Elkhart County Board of Commissioners recently decided to add horse-and-buggy lanes along a busy 3-mile stretch of County Road 40, southwest of Goshen and directly east of Wakarusa. 

“It’s very expensive, but it will improve public safety,” County Commissioner Mike Yoder said. “It’s a road that has a high volume of traffic, and a variety of types of traffic — semi-trucks, passenger vehicles, and Amish buggies.”

Elkhart County Highway Engineer Kent Schumacher noted that County Road 40 is the main east-west road into the Wakarusa area, where two Mennonite churches are located.

Several horse-and-buggy lanes are already in use on the east side of Elkhart County, including one in Middlebury and one near Millersburg. Schumacher was the first to recognize the problems along the County Road 40 stretch between Indiana 19 and Indiana 119.

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