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Road projects should spark county’s economy

The Harrison County Council approved two additionals related to the engineer’s office at its first meeting of the new year, both of which would enhance the county’s economic viability if the end results come to fruition.
One, totaling $100,000, was for sinkhole repairs on the Federal Drive-Pacer Court extension project. This particular project is a win-win for the county, since it won’t cost taxpayers a dime and it should provide excellent real estate for economic growth by connecting the area behind the Walmart Supercenter and Harrison County Hospital. Pacer Court, the road leading to Cracker Barrel, O’Charley’s and Super 8 Motel will hook around and connect with Federal Drive near the Northfield health offices and then lead back to Corydon-Ramsey Road near Hospital Drive.
The council provided the initial funds as a loan to the economic development corporation, which will then be paid back the costs by the property owners along the new roadway after 10 years. The EDC will then pay the county back.
The property owners are confident enough the road will spur growth that they’ve agreed to pay for the $1.5 million-plus project. That’s reason enough for me to know that it will be a job-creating project, with business opportunities a-plenty on either side of the approximately 6,000-foot stretch of road.
The area along S.R. 135 has expanded almost unbelievably in the last 20 to 25 years, and there’s no reason to think that won’t continue west on the new road, which engineer Kevin Russel said he’s been a cheerleader for since the talks began with the county commissioners and the EDC.
The other additional, with a total cost of $48,000, was for a year-long contract for the lobbyist group, Appian. The consultants will do all they can to provide information and support to the county for the proposed Interstate 64 interchange just west of the existing Corydon interchange. The interchange, which will be built near the hospital and S.R. 337, scored only below the Ohio River bridge project in a priority study by the Seymour District of the Indiana Department of Transportation.
This project is a long way from being a reality, even though $9 million of federal funds have already been secured for it. As Commissioner Carl (Buck) Mathes said at the council’s Jan. 10 meeting, the state’s focus will remain singularly on the Interstate 69 project until it is complete.
But, when and if it is constructed, the interchange would also provide some economic opportunity and would link HCH almost directly to the interstate. The project has received bipartisan support, with both former Congressional representatives Baron Hill and Mike Sodrel favoring it.
With these two projects, it’s evident that the county leaders have a vision for growth, and they’re committed to seeing it through.