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Commissioners see big repairs, new roads coming

There are plans in the works for major road improvements and, perhaps, new county roads in the near future, but, for the time being, the Harrison County Commissioners are concentrating on the upcoming construction season.
The board is seeking $4 million now to upgrade existing roads. Each of the three districts in the county would receive $1 million for improvements plus $333,333 for contract work, such as guardrail installations.
That amount and more has been approved by the Harrison County Council each of the past three years from Caesars’ gaming tax revenue, which so far totals $57.3 million.
As a result of the spending on roads, 83 percent of Harrison County’s country roads are now paved, 16 percent are gravel, and one percent chip and seal, engineer Darin Duncan told the council last week.
“That’s a pretty good improvement over the last three years,” he said.
The council is expected to act on that request at its Monday night meeting at 7.
In the coming months — and years — the council may be asked to approve funds to improve Corydon-New Middletown Road, to construct a new connector road between S.R. 337 and Buck Creek Valley Road at the New Middletown-Elizabeth Road, and build a new road from S.R. 11 at the S.R. 337 intersection west to S. R. 135. That would give southeast residents a more direct route to the Corydon, the county seat.
Those projects are all in the early planning stages, but aerial photographs will likely be taken this spring to determine the topography along each location, Duncan said. The consulting firm, PDR Engineering of Corydon, is under contract on that phase of the project and beyond.
“This is not something we’re going to do without public input,” Duncan said. “We will be soliciting public input to see what people want.”
Public meetings will be held for that purpose, but plans aren’t far enough along to schedule those.
Duncan said no property owners are expected to be displaced by any of these plans, but rights-of-ways will need to be acquired and some utilities relocated for the work to be accomplished.
Work on the 12-1/2-mile stretch from Corydon to Elizabeth, beginning with Corydon-New Middletown Road, will involve straightening some curves and cutting down some hills, improvements designed to make travel safe at 45 mph in certain areas, said Commissioner John R. (J.R.) Eckart.
Eckart, in whose district the road lies, said the focus will be on the first two miles or so of the Corydon-New Middletown Road, from Smith Hill Road east to New Middletown.
“We want to do some major work,” he said. “It’s a dangerous, hilly, undulating road.”
Although riverboat revenue will be sought, the commissioners are also investigating the possibility of using federal funds for some of the improvements. But that process, which can take more than five years, may prove too lengthy, Duncan said.