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Transportation plan puts map in our hands

Anyone who drives in Harrison County knows the traffic on our roads has increased tremendously the last several years. And if the county’s population continues to swell ‘ and why would anyone think otherwise with all the great things we have to offer here? ‘ at the current rate, the volume of traffic will continue to grow.
The county has a Comprehensive Plan to help guide growth, but it lacked an up-to-date map to help route improvements and expansions on the roads.
That changed with the recent adoption of the Long Range Transportation Plan, prepared by Bernardin Lochmueller & Associates Inc. County officials now appear to be heading in the right direction to get a better grip on traffic patterns. (The Harrison County Board of Commissioners is expected to officially adopt the plan at its April 21 meeting.)
The Evansville firm, hired last year, tried to look 10 to 20 years into the future.
Charlie Alvey, project coordinator, and Carl Camacho, project engineer, spent hours driving our narrow, winding, hilly, county roads, as well as state highways, some of which aren’t much better. The firm’s Top 10 list of roads needing improvements came as no surprise; any Harrison County driver probably would have come up with the same list. But what the plan does is make recommendations how to improve those roads and estimate construction costs.
‘Safety is a big issue,’ Camacho said at this month’s plan commission meeting.
As part of updating the transportation plan, the county will adopt a thoroughfare plan, which establishes classifications for all streets and highways. They will be identified as one of four types: arterial, collector, local rural, or local urban. The last one, which is especially important to developers, will take into consideration curbs, gutters and storm sewers. While it won’t make the roads level, it does level the playing field for developers who are made aware what the county expects.
Another good thing about adopting this plan is that some, not all, of the projects, if they’re ever carried out, would be eligible for federal funding. In Indiana, federal projects receive 80 percent of the cost. Paying 20 percent for a project is a whole lot better than coming up with 100 percent of the money needed.
For those of you who are less than thrilled with any of the recommendations in Bernardin Lochmueller’s plan, remember what Camacho said: Priorities can change. If another part of the county begins to experience heavy growth, that would probably lead planning in a different direction.
We commend the Harrison County Advisory Plan Commission and the county commissioners for being the driving force behind updating our transportation plan. We may not actually be on our way right now to start any improvement projects, but at least we have the map in hand to guide us in the right direction.