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County picks site for new I-64 interchange

The Harrison County Board of Commissioners Monday gave its stamp of approval to the location for an Interstate 64 interchange 2.3 miles west of S.R. 135 in Corydon.
The endorsement allows Harrison County’s consultants, American Consulting Inc., to report its findings to the state for review and revision and possible acceptance in the state’s long-range highway construction plan.
Harrison County Engineer Darin Duncan said before construction could begin, more detailed plans would be developed and about 110 acres of rights-of-way would be required. “Optimistically,” he said construction could begin in five to 10 years.
The preferred site, midway between Gethsemane Road and the S.R. 337 overpass, includes two alternates for alignment with 337. Either of those alternates (2A and 2B) would require a new connector road with S.R. 62 and a new bridge over I-64 connecting with 337.
The difference between the two alternates is the alignment with 337 north of I-64. The first option would connect with 337 as is (at a 90-degree curve north of I-64), and the second, 2B, would straighten the curve.
Commission chair J.R. Eckart said either alternate is acceptable, but he prefers 2B because of its alignment with 337 and Quarry Road.
Commissioner James Goldman believes straightening 337 at the Quarry Road intersection would do away with congestion and vehicle crashes at the site. “I think we need to look toward the future,” he said. “I think it’s in the best interest of Harrison County that we accept this,” he said, moving to accept American Consulting’s recommendation.
Commissioner Jim Heitkemper seconded the motion, even though he earlier said he preferred Alternate 2A. “If there’s no difference (in the location), let’s go ahead,” Heitkemper said.
Approval of the location allows Harrison County to implement land-use planning, Duncan said, “hopefully, before the area becomes saturated with development.”
The state would ultimately work out the differences between the two options, Duncan said.
If endorsed by the Indiana Dept. of Transportation, a transportation study would be required to help INDOT justify the project for federal funding, Duncan said.
INDOT would examine the impact of future growth in that area “with and without the interchange,” he said.
If approved, the federal highway department would pay 80 percent of the project costs and the state would pay the difference. While the costs are yet to be determined, the construction would cost an estimated $24.2 million, based on today’s prices
The location is farther west than the S.R. 337 and Corydon-Ramsey Road option, which area residents oppose mainly due to concerns about traffic congestion in their quiet neighborhood.
The commissioners also approved the long-range transportation plan presented by Bernardin, Lochmueller & Associates of Evansville.
The plan includes 10 projects which will be included in the county’s comprehensive plan for land use and development and subdivision controls.
The proposed federally funded projects include the I-64 interchange previously noted and an extension of Crandall-Lanesville Road from I-64 to S.R. 64 west of Georgetown. Other county roads slated for improvement include Corydon-Ramsey, Heidelberg, Shiloh and Fogel roads to Corydon-New Middletown Road, Corydon-New Middletown-Elizabeth Road, new connector road between S.R. 135 and Big Indian Road, and Quarry Road.
“We probably could add more to it, but you have to stop somewhere,” Goldman said.
Some of the improvements may be needed before federal funds can be acquired, which takes years, Eckart said. “We really need to look at these and see where our priorities are.”