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Why pay consultants for what we already know?

Since Caesars’ riverboat opened at Bridgeport in late 1998 and the tax dollars began flowing into county coffers, there’s been no shortage of worthy projects on which to spend it. What’s puzzling is why feasibility studies are required for just about anything our officials try to do. Often, the results of a study aren’t that difficult to determine. Sometimes a little common sense is all that’s needed.
The latest consulting fee our county council must consider has to do with the proposed Interstate 64 interchange west of Corydon, which already has a thick volume of data defining the whys and wherefores of the proposal. However, if the favored site (Gethsemane Road) is to be selected, then additional data showing the growth that would occur must be completed, to appease the state and federal folks who will fork over most of the money to do this project ‘ if and when it is approved. Our officials really don’t have much say in the matter, not if they want this proposal to become reality. But it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out that if the interchange goes in west of Corydon, within a couple of miles, the result will be growth in that area. And probably lots of it.
American Consulting Engineers of Indianapolis, the consulting engineers on the project so far, has offered to do the extra work on behalf of Corydon and the county for an additional $38,800, max. ACE is the same firm that completed the initial engineering and environmental study not to mention countless projects for Harrison County in the past. It is well qualified to come up with data to support the contention that the area will become urban within the 20-year life of the project. Otherwise, the state, in compliance with federal guidelines, will not allow a second interchange that close to the first, at S.R. 135. In rural areas, at least three miles between interchanges are the norm.
Our concern is that our own officials could probably supply the data that’s necessary, at no extra cost, if the state would provide a checklist of questions to be answered. We’re not just referring to this one instance, but in all the studies that have been required since Harrison County has had the wherewithal to get a few things done.
We are becoming increasingly aware that consulting firms are the ones who are realizing the major boost in work and income since the riverboat arrived. We surely wish someone would figure out a way for some of that to trickle down to the little guys.