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Darin Duncan’s ‘divide and conquer’ road project

Those yellow, orange, blue and red utility flags waving alongside a stretch of the New Middletown-Corydon Road are a sure sign that something’s in the works.
And while it won’t be turned into an interstate, or even a state highway, the changes in the busy road will definitely be noticeable.
The work soon to get underway represents the first phase of an extensive, expensive reconstruction project designed to give Harrison County motorists a smoother, flatter, safer route linking southeastern Harrison County with Corydon, the county seat, and vice versa, said Harrison County engineer Darin Duncan.
The flags identify utility placements. Yellow stands for a natural gas line; orange stands for a telephone line or telecommuncation cable; blue is for water, and the red marks either an electrical line or surveying points.
The 12-mile project has been divided into nine phases, the first of which begins off S.R. 62 on the Corydon-New Middletown Road at the mud slide that’s been threatening to cover the road for years, and then at the irregular four-way intersection a few hundred feet away, where Country Club Road, Smith Hill Road and Corydon-New Middletown Road come together, in a confusing and dangerous configuration.
The project will be funded locally, if the county council will approve the spending from riverboat revenue.
Basically, some curves will be straightened and hills cut down to improve visibility, and part of the road will be shifted away from existing housing.
That first phase of improvements involves about a mile heading east-southeast from the Country Club Road-Smith Hill Road intersection.
As county engineer Darin Duncan put it, ‘This is my Napoleon Theme Project,’ because a ‘divide and conquer’ concept will be used to upgrade some 12 miles of the Corydon-New Middletown-Elizabeth Road.
‘This will not be an interstate or a four-lane road,’ Duncan said. ‘It will be a more safe and efficient link between the county seat and an area of the county that does not have a safe connection.’
Duncan said the project represents a starting point in implementing long-range plans announced last year to make safety improvements in areas showing a consistent need. The first phase of the project includes that part of the road where numerous injury accidents have occurred and, last year, a fatality.
‘We are trying to construct as much of this without disruption to traffic,’ said Duncan, adding that the detour has not yet been determined. ‘We will try to minimize our road-closing times.’
Cost estimates are not yet complete for the entire project, but the first phase of the improvement project is expected to cost $600,000.