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Lanesville Connector Road costs spike

The Harrison County Council heard a report Monday evening detailing a significant increase in the cost of the upcoming portion of the Lanesville Connector Road project.
The connector road project, which has already begun in phases, will connect the Interstate 64 interchange area north of Lanesville with S.R. 64 west of Georgetown.
The first phase, between the I-64 interchange and George’s Hill Road, is complete, and the second phase, between George’s Hill and Old Lanesville roads, is fully-funded and is in the design phase with construction set for 2017.
The funding for the third phase has yet to be approved through the Indiana Dept. of Transportation.
The application for funding Project 2B, which will make the full connection from I-64 to S.R. 64, increased to a total cost of $13.8 million, up from $9.5 million in 2014, according to Wing Lau of Structure Point.
The project is set for construction in 2020.
‘Phase 2B is a continuation of the current design that we’re doing from the interchange of 64 all the way up to Old Lanesville (Road),’ Lau said. ‘That’s 2A, and right now this project, 2B, is from Old Lanesville all the way to S.R. 64, about 3/4 of a mile and also includes the realignment of S.R. 64.’
Lau said the realignment of S.R. 64 is for the interchange area, to make it safe.
The federally-funded project calls for a 20-percent local match, with Harrison County picking up an estimated $2.75 million, an increase of about $600,000 from 2014 projections.
Councilwoman Holli Castetter asked if the increase was enough to consider another route.
‘This is the only one INDOT will accept,’ Commissioner George Ethridge said.
One main reason for the increase is the revelation of the need for a 100-foot-span bridge instead of a small culvert crossing Brush Heap Creek, at a cost of $1.5 million instead of $400,000.
‘So you thought you were going to need a culvert but now you need a bridge,’ Castetter said.
Lau said that’s the case, to provide an adequate crossing.
‘This is quite an investment, but I think it’s a very worthwhile investment,’ Councilman Jim Heitkemper said. ‘I’ve always felt like the Lanesville Connector Road is something we must do.’
Ethridge told the council to remember the estimate is worst-case scenario.
Council Chair Gary Davis asked about potential funding of the project, through the local match, from previously earmarked money for the Corydon west interchange on I-64. More than $9 million was secured for that project, and recent legislative action made it possible for those funds to be redirected to projects within a 50-mile radius of the original project.
‘I believe we will be able to use that … ‘ Ethridge said. ‘INDOT hasn’t figured out yet how much of that will be applied to the local match or if any of it will be allowed to.’
Castetter said theoretically it could pay for the entire local portion of the project.
Councilman Kyle Nix made a motion to wait until the council’s next meeting to approve signing the funding application, so he could have questions answered by engineer Kevin Russel, who was absent.
Davis said it was his understanding the application needed to be signed that night in order to get it in under the deadline.
‘There’s a few things I want to get addressed …’ Nix said. ‘These numbers aren’t what we saw in January or February.’
Councilman Richard Gerdon seconded the motion, which failed 2-5 with a split vote (Nix and Gerdon are the only Democrats on the council).
Davis said the council’s next meeting will be May 9 and the application has to be turned in May 16.
‘That’s not really practical,’ he said.
Nix then made the motion to allow Davis to sign the letter approving the funding application ‘at his leisure.’
It passed, with a 5-2 vote, with Nix against his own motion, and Gerdon joining.
‘Worst waste of taxpayer money I’ve ever seen,’ Gerdon said after the vote.
Davis said they’ve been working on this project a long time.
‘We’ve built the first short period over to George’s Hill, we’re working on phase A and we’ve got phase B to go,’ he said.