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Connector road request barely passes

The Harrison County Council voted Monday night to approve a request to seek funding, with a 60-40 state-local split, for the Lanesville connector road project. The vote, which included requesting the less-desirable alternate four, narrowly passed 4-3 with Councilmembers Sherry Brown, Ralph Sherman and Richard Gerdon voting against. Combined with the 2-1 vote from the commissioners (Commissioner Jim Klinstiver voted against) only six of 10 county officials voted for the project.
The council heard about 90 minutes worth of testimony as to why alternate three is better than four. Alternate three, however, was not permitted by the state.
Larry Ott, a member of the Harrison County Advisory Plan Commission, was the main opponent to alternate four.
‘Alternate three was adopted in the comprehensive plan, and the plan commission feels no other route should be considered,’ he said. ‘Yet, that’s been ignored by the state.’
Ott said alternate four costs $3.3 million more than alternate three (estimates from 2005), has a large valley near the Norfolk Southern crossing that would have to be filled in and it cuts through prime farm land.
He said all common sense points to alternate three.
‘Are we really so desperate that we have to take a bad deal?’ Ott asked. ‘I’m just absolutely passionate it’s not the right move for Harrison County. Once it’s there, we’ve got it for life.’
Councilman Phil Smith asked Ott if he supported a connector road in general and how long he’d be willing to wait for the state to approve alternate three.
Ott said he’s been a proponent for the road for years.
‘Government has lost all common sense,’ he said. ‘It’s not that hard. There has to be a way that common sense prevails.’
Rosemary Clark, a landowner along alternate four, said she was concerned about the merchants and businesses in Georgetown and Edwardsville if the road was put in.
Bill Osborne said the road will be a safety hazard because it connects an interstate (70 mph) and a state road (55 mph).
A number of other residents spoke against alternate four.
Councilman Gary Davis said any savings going with route three have already been eaten-up by inflation and the cost would continue to rise the longer they waited.
Smith then made the motion to approve, and Councilman Gordon Pendleton seconded. Davis and Councilman Jim Heitkemper joined in favor, pushing the request through. The approval doesn’t mean construction will begin, because the state would still have to award the 60-40 grant. The state will reveal the grant winners by February. Plus, the grant will not pay for the full connector road; the remainder would have to be requested at a later date.
The proposed road would connect S.R. 64 and the Lanesville Interstate 64 interchange area. The route follows Old Lanesville Road from the interchange area north to George’s Hill Road then heads west toward Felton Road, crosses the Norfolk Southern Railroad before heading north again to S.R. 64 (east of Gun Club Road), crossing Indian Creek twice along the way. Alternate three runs a little farther east.
The next council meeting will be Monday, Dec. 23, at 7 p.m. at the Government Center in Corydon.