1944: South Bend/Mishawaka Bypass – Ireland or New Road?

13 January 1944. A meeting for the next day at 3 PM was reported in the South Bend Tribune. That meeting, including Mishawaka Mayor Joe Brady, the city board of public works, the Chamber of Commerce, and “other Mishawakans,” were to meet with the Laporte District Engineer of the Indiana State Highway Commission, Frank E. Bernoske, concerning a bypass of the city of Mishawaka to the south…and where it should be placed. They were pushing the bypass to be a number one post-war project. And their preference was to push the bypass to Ireland Road, as opposed to New Road that had been recommended by others.

The original bypass idea gained footing in the spring of 1939, when, as reported in the South Bend Tribune of 19 May 1939, “construction of a primary system of state roads by which heavy traffic would be shunted around South Bend and Mishawaka probably will begin in 1941 and be completed about two years later, T. A. Dicus and C. W. Siniff, two of Indiana’s three state highway commissioners, said Thursday afternoon in a meeting of representatives of the two cities and of St. Joseph county after a luncheon in the Oliver hotel.” (Source: South Bend Tribune, 19 May 1939, pp 15)

The bypass made progress in 1943 when there was concern about the large number of trucks pounding their way through South Bend and Mishawaka. The South Bend Tribune of 23 November 1943 discussed plans of such bypass. The entire bypass would be a system of roads that created a rectangle around South Bend and Mishawaka. The plan was: to use Ash Road on the east from New Road to Cleveland Road; on the north Cleveland Road from Ash Road to Mayflower Road (an extension thereof, since it didn’t run to Cleveland at that time); on the west the extended Mayflower Road, Sumption Road, and Oak Road south from Cleveland Road to New Road; and on the south, New Road from Oak Road to Ash Road.

“The huge rectangle surrounding the South Bend-Mishawaka area by the by-passes would enable all heavy traffic to be rerouted around the two cities as all main arteries from every direction would intersect with its perimeter, Mayor Pavy pointed out.” (Source South Bend Tribune, 23 November 1943, pp 9) “Diversion of truck traffic from the cities is essential to reduce traffic congestion within the communities, eliminate undue noise and prevent deterioration of buildings shaken by the heavy vehicles, the mayor added.”

The purple lines drawn on this Google Map of the South Bend-Mishawaka Area show the proposed truck bypass of the two cities, as of reports in November 1943. Only parts of this proposed bypass exist today, with Mayflower Road truncated at the Lincoln Highway/Michigan Road on the west, and Ash Road not being complete, even then, from New Road in the south to Cleveland Road in the north. The Mayflower Road would have been across the grounds of what is now South Bend International Airport. The orange line stretching across the map 4.5 miles north of New Road is the Ireland Road corridor, which also never actually completely existed.

As mentioned in the first paragraph, the city of Mishawaka had other plans. Instead of using the New Road corridor for the truck bypass, the Mishawakans recommended using Ireland Road. “Those favoring the Ireland road will argues that this project was approved locally two years ago and that the right-of-way for construction of approximately two miles of new highway from the eastern end of Ireland road at Union street east to a point on Dragoon trail had been obtained.” (Source: South Bend Tribune, 13 January 1944, pp 27)

“The Ireland road was favored two years ago by the road committees of the local Chamber of Commerce and the South Bend Association of Commerce. Some engineering work was done at that time, which it was reported showed that the Ireland road bypass could be completed without difficulty or excessive cost.”

As it turned out, the plan for the “number one post-war project” that the South Bend-Mishawaka bypass was supposed to be, the state highway commission had other ideas. A story in the South Bend Tribune on 21 September 1947 reported that “a truck by-pass through Mishawaka, a local issue of some five years, and originally designed as the city’s No. 1 postwar project, moved a step closer to a solution Saturday with the assurance from Gov. Ralph H. Gates and H. D. Hartman, a member of the state highway commission.” Part of the request was that US 33 through Mishawaka and South Bend be rerouted, cutting down truck traffic on that major thoroughfare.

I only scanned the newspapers between 1937 and 1950 for reports concerning this article. As of 17 June 1950, the South Bend Tribune reported no progress whatsoever on a truck bypass of South Bend and Mishawaka. The bypass west of South Bend, the St. Joseph Valley Parkway, started construction in the mid-1950’s. East of US 31 south of South Bend, near the Ireland Road intersection, the bypass would be in a holding pattern until the 1990s, at least according to USGS topo maps. It turned out that the road would become part of US 20, and bypass not only South Bend and Mishawaka, but Elkhart, as well. On the south and west sides of South Bend, the Parkway became part of US 31.

One thought on “1944: South Bend/Mishawaka Bypass – Ireland or New Road?

  1. I had no idea about this!

    During my childhood the Bypass (as we called the SJV Parkway then) swung around the west side of the city and ended just west of US 31. But the right of way went farther than that. As the cities expanded southward they had to not build in the ROW of course. My aunt lived in a neighborhood that went in around that ROW and there was just a wide swath of nothing right in the middle of the neighborhood. Of course, today there’s a road there, built up high so that the neighborhood’s streets can pass under it.


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