The Great Time Zone Controversy is fizzling out the way many people predicted (oh, OK, the way I predicted -- pat, pat, pat), with most counties wanting to stay the way they are and a few counties in northwest and southwest Indiana near Central zone counties wanting to switch from Eastern. South Bend is the most interesting case. I used to live about as far west of South Bend as I now live east of it, so I'm familiar with the conflicting pulls people there feel.
On the one hand, South Bend residents feel the tug of Fort Wayne and the east -- it is the Fort Wayne-South Bend Catholic Diocese, for example. But the Windy City also beckons. The South Shore Railroad goes from South Bend to Chicago, running through most of northwest Indiana on the trips back and forth. If that were all there is to it, it would be a 50-50 call -- anybody's guess -- which way South Bend should be. But Michigan is a factor, too. South Bend is very close to the border, and people probably go back and forth to Michigan a lot more than they do to Chicago. Staying in sync with Michigan would require the status quo of the Eastern zone.
That means, I think, that there is a stronger case for South Bend staying Eastern than for going Central. The vote by the county to switch is likely to get so much opposition when and if the Department of Transportation conducts hearings that the feds will decline to make a change.
We might have more of a stake in this than we realize. South Bend staying Eastern would make "northeast Indiana" feel more substantial. South Bend going Central would make "northwest Indiana" the victor.