A Case for Sidewalks Along US 40 at Cambridge City

Very soon after the Great Renumbering, the Indiana State Highway Commission started on plans to expand and bypass several of the new United States highways through the state. The earliest of these were plans for US 30, US 31 and US 40. Both US 31 and US 40 had quickly become some of the busiest highways in the state, connecting the capital city with surrounding states directly. The US 40 plan was to expand the road to two dual lanes with a center median. However, this ran into problems when it came to towns along the way.

It wouldn’t be until the early 1930’s that the ISHC would be allowed to maintain state roads that used local streets. By 1935, plans for US 40 were made for Cambridge City, in Wayne County. The state owned the road through the town. At the time, the US 40 pavement through the town consisted of nine foot wide hard surface on each side of the interurban tracks that ran through the middle of the street from College Street to the east corporation line. The ISHC then planned to add dirt berms and open ditches on each side of the road. (Source: Cambridge City Tribune, 17 October 1935)

This did not sit well with citizens in the area. Petitions were passed around to have the ISHC reconsider this plan that would not fix the headaches caused by bottle necks in the area. It was decided by the ISHC at the beginning of that week, that the US 40 rebuild would be full width in concrete with curbs and gutters. This was much appreciated by the citizens.

But the newspaper decided it was time to take on the city government to further improve the road. Yes, gutters and curbs would be great…but what about the safety of pedestrians in the town? It was time, the newspaper editorial staff opined, that sidewalks be built by the town for that purpose. “There are no better building sites on state road 40 between Indianapolis and Richmond than right at these locations where there are no sidewalks.”

The newspaper made the case for four foot wide sidewalks adjoining the curb. The case was made that with sidewalks, people would actually stop in Cambridge City. The argument was “dud you ever go into a strange town about meal time and ask for a good place to eat and some one told you the hotel across the street is the best place in town? You step into the dining room – it’s gloomy, table cloths dirty and the cream pitcher on the table had a swarm of flies around it? I’ll go to the next time, where I’m acquainted.”

The writer also pointed out that this was the duty of Cambridge City, not that of the state highway commission or the Federal government.

The planned expansion of US 40 would be completed the following year. The next mention of US 40 in the town would be in 1948, when the ISHC announced that Cambridge City would receive two traffic signal installations: one at Main Street (US 40) and Center Street (SR 1), and one at Main Street and Green Street.

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