|Sat, Oct 25, 2014 05:27 AM
|Issue of October 22, 2014
November 26, 2013 | 09:21 AM
The Harrison County Board of Commissioners has shifted its focus to the Lanesville connector road in hopes of receiving federal funding to get the project started again after the initial stage of improvement, widening and enhancing Crandall-Lanesville Road around the interchange was completed last year.
At the board's last meeting, the commissioners moved to make the connector road priority No. 1 on the federal funding list (the Indian Creek Trail project was the second and only other priority for the county).
The Harrison County Board of Commissioners voted to move forward with alternate 4 for the Lanesville connector road project. Alternate 3, the one the county prefers, would not be approved by the Indiana Dept. of Natural Resources. (click for larger version)
The board voted to rescind a $5 million commitment the previous board had instituted for the Corydon west Interstate 64 project. Members of the county council expressed to the board that they would not support funding for the connector road project, or any other large project for that matter, if the $5 million was still committed to the second Corydon interchange project.
The proposed road would connect S.R. 64 to the Lanesville Interstate 64 interchange area.
Harrison County Engineer Kevin Russel said it has been a while since the Indiana Dept. of Transportation has had a call for projects, but the selection pool has grown significantly since the last time. Russel said that, instead of competing with only projects in the Seymour District, the county now must compete with projects from the entire state.
Russel said the route chosen out of five prospects from the interchange area to S.R. 64 is alternate four; it is the route approved by INDOT. The route follows Old Lanesville Road from the interchange area north to George's Hill Road then heads west toward Felton Road, crosses the Norfolk Southern Railroad before heading north again to S.R. 64 (east of Gun Club Road), crossing Indian Creek along the way. Alternate four is the second western most alternate behind No. 5. County officials agreed alternate three was the best, but INDOT would only approve alternate four. Russel said the county should receive word about the federal aid for projects sometime in February.
"From my perspective, there is no doubt that alternate 4 will safely move traffic from point A to point B," Eric Wise, county planner, said. "However, the new route will prevent development of the area as originally envisioned and will require the Lanesville interchange plan to be revisited and revised. Until that time, it will be difficult to say what the ultimate impact will be, but I am confident that, with the help of the residents in the area, the plan can be adapted to make the most of this much needed connection."
At the board of commissioners last meeting, Harrison County Advisory Plan Commission member Larry Ott asked if the board could explain why it approved moving forward with alternate 4 when all along the plan commission recommended alternate 3.
"We can't get anywhere with the DNR on alternate 3," Commissioner George Ethridge said.
Ethridge said alternate 3 includes insurmountable obstacles and it would be difficult and probably impossible to secure the needed permits because it includes the clearing of a wooded area that is home to wildlife.
"Our decision was made not because (alternate 4) is a better route — I still think alternate 3 is the better route — but we can sit there and do nothing for seven more years or we can get something done," Ethridge said.
Ott said his issue, when it concerns the state's lack of cooperation with alternate 3 and government in general, is that government seems to have lost all realm of common sense. He said alternate 3 will not be approved because of fragmentation (causing wildlife populations to disperse or fragment), when alternate 4 goes right through prime farm land and is $3.3 million more expensive in 2005 dollars.
Ethridge said they've fought for alternative 3 as has Indiana Ninth District Congressman Todd Young.
"We were going nowhere on alternate 3," Ethridge said.
Having a connector road, Ethridge said, is in the best interest of Lanesville.
"We've got momentum there at the interchange; it's very important to try to continue that," Commissioner Kenny Saulman said.
Ott also expressed concern about the contractor on the project, American Structurepoint. He said the engineering firm ignored the plan commission's recommendations about intersection placement around the interchange area in the past and they don't have any interest in Harrison County.
The commissioners gave the go-ahead to Structurepoint, which was signed on to the project many years ago when it began, to start with preliminary engineering.