GOSHEN -

The green light has finally been given for a major traffic project in Goshen.

The $25 million US 33 North Connector Project has been talked about for more than 17 years.

"It's really going to happen, now after many, many years of discussions," exclaimed Mayor Allan Kauffman.

At any given time of day, traffic gets pretty heavy on US 33 through downtown Goshen.

Since 1997, the Indiana Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration have been working on how to thin traffic.

"INDOT has gotten permission from federal highways to go ahead with this project, so it's really going to happen," Kauffman said.

The goal all along has been to find a way to safely divert traffic around the perimeter of the city, much of it business-related, to help alleviate congestion in the downtown, especially the business district.

Called the US North 33 Connector, it will run from Monroe Street near Goshen High School to Main Street.

It will go along the Norfolk Southern, Marion Branch Rail Line and include one continuous overpass that will go over the rail line over Lincoln and Cottage Ave.

"With this US 33 Connector, we will have three traffic signals and then the overpass and everything, so it will allow for much smoother flow through the city, and then State Road 15 will be rerouted on to 3rd Street, explained Goshen City Engineer Mary Cripe.

"Semis, the heavy traffic that we've been dealing with through Main Street and 3rd Street, will take that route, and the existing route Madison Street, Main Street will be left for local traffic," added Mayor Kauffman.

Work is already underway to acquire land for the project, which includes relocation of affected businesses and homes.

Construction could start in 2016, and is expected to take up to 2 1/2 years. The entire $25 million cost will be covered by state and federal funds.