Construction begins on new 'highway' between South Bend and Plymouth

The construction of a new ‘highway’ between South Bend and Plymouth began today.

No, we’re not talking about the U.S. 31 road realignment project—this project would extend the information highway known as the Metronet.

Groundbreaking ceremonies were held today for the $2.5 million project to extend the Metronet from Ireland Road, on South Bend’s south side, 33 miles into and around Plymouth.

Hoosier Racing Tire is the largest manufacturer of racing tires in the world and Hoosier Tire welcomes the world of difference access to the Metronet will make.

“For practically the same price that we're paying we're going to see speeds that are 300 to 500 times better than what we have,” said Hoosier Racing Tire’s Craig Benninghoff. “I’ll be able to run manufacturing from servers located in Lakeville, I’ll be able to run sales and distribution from servers located in Plymouth.”

Hoosier Racing Tire has facilities in both St. Joseph and Marshall Counties, which is one reason why St. Joseph County Government dug deep into its pockets to contribute $250,000 to what is primarily a project to bring dark fiber into Marshall County.

“It gave us a greater access to the southern part of St. Joe County because right now, we don’t have Metronet access to that area and what we find is that we’ve got a lot of companies that do business both in Marshall and St. Joe County,” said St. Joseph County Commissioner Andrew Kostielney.

“I tell you what, my first year I was skeptical of it,” said Plymouth Mayor Mark Senter.

Today’s groundbreaking ceremonies had plenty of one-time skeptics like Senter, whose city ended up shouldering the largest financial burden of any government entity: $1.3 million.

“It'll just bring dark fiber that has been discussed now for a long, long time, to Marshall County, to Plymouth, Indiana to help our economy grow. Believe me I don't understand it all, or how that works but that's what we have people around us for.”

Marshall County Commissioner Kevin Overmyer was also skeptical in the beginning, before becoming the project’s biggest supporter.

“I am very confident it’s going to create jobs, I’m very confident it’s going to help expand businesses,” said Overmyer. “Anymore when you get site locators, the first question is do you guys have fiber? Do you have dark fiber, do you have the bandwidth?”

St. Joseph Medical Center in Plymouth was also a contributor to the project. With the additional bandwidth, St. Joseph will be able to arrange for robotic surgery in conjunction with doctors at Loyola Hospital in Chicago.

For years, officials in Plymouth tried to land state and federal grants to pay for the project. They finally had to find a way to raise the cash locally.

The Plymouth Redevelopment Commission contributed $1.3 million, Marshall County paid $500,000 and St. Joseph County contributed $250,000.

Hoosier Racing Tire and St. Joseph Medical Center Plymouth also contributed financially to the extension.

The work is slated to begin in two weeks and be completed sometime this fall.

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