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Connector road request ready for council vote

With bids in on the construction of a bridge to further progress the Lanesville connector road project, Harrison County now knows the rest of the bill to get the start of phase two underway. The Harrison County Board of Commissioners approved Monday night asking the Harrison County Council for $5,020,148.54, which would allow the work to begin later this summer.
The amount was determined after six bids came in to construct a bridge over the Norfolk Southern railroad. The lowest bidder was Louisville Paving Co. at $8,618,000.
The price to build the bridge, along with other agreements that come with the work, such as utility relocations and a work agreement with the railway company, totals $9,010,654.74.
Harrison County has some of that covered, with federal funds still available for the project. The nearly $4 million remaining brings Harrison County’s bill to the $5.02 million amount.
It’s all part of a project to construct a road from George’s Hill Road to Old Lanesville Road.
‘This has been a long time we’ve worked to get to this point, so it’s exciting to see things come together,’ Kevin Russel, Harrison County’s engineer, said after getting the commissioners’ approval.
While the lowest bid still came in higher than initially anticipated, Russel told the commissioners the Indiana Dept. of Transportation would still allow the project to be awarded because the price was not too many percentage points above the county’s estimate.
‘I had thought, at first, that if it was over the construction estimate, they had to rebid it,’ Russel said. ‘After this happened, I got to checking and they said they have some leeway if it’s close, and, if they have enough bids, they can award it.’
Overall, six companies vied for the project. The highest bid sent to the county, via INDOT, came in at more than $10,600,000.
The council will hear the request as early as Monday, during its scheduled 7 p.m. meeting at the Government Center. If approved, and when the construction costs are paid for, construction would take several months, extending into 2019.
To date, the county has been awarded $14,344,975.20 from the state, according to Russel, for the work. There’s also nearly $11 million in local matching funds.
Harrison County leadership is lobbying for even more money, asking the state for funds earmarked to build a new interchange on Interstate 64 west of Corydon to be set to the Lanesville connector road project.
Russel said Gov. Eric Holcomb, who was in Harrison County earlier this month as the guest speaker at the annual Lincoln Day Dinner, has said he will have someone look into the request.
Also at Monday night’s meeting, the commissioners unanimously approved an ordinance to ease flood restrictions.
Harrison County Planner Eric Wise said the county ordinance is getting amended removing the term ‘repetitive loss.’
The term had required damaged properties to raise their structures two feet above flood elevation after a second flood incident.
In March, flooding damaged several properties that the owners would be required, due to local ordinances, to raise the building above flood elevation.
‘In some cases, it would be 15 or 20 feet in the air,’ Wise said.
Most properties in question had suffered similar damage during a 1997 flood.
‘I’m glad we got that done,’ said Commissioner Charlie Crawford, who added this will un-do some hardships for many families who suffered last month.
The amended ordinance only applies to properties that are damaged with the cost totaling less than 50 percent of the property’s value.
Wise said buildings with a historic designation will be exempted from the change. It applies to a variety of historic structures that are defined by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The only requirement is that repairs do not jeopardize a building’s historic status.
‘As long as they’re doing the work in a manner that is going to maintain the historic character, they don’t have to worry about the flood regulations at all,’ Wise told the commissioners.
The ordinance now more closely matches state standards.
The commissioners’ next meeting will be Monday, May 7, at 8:30 a.m.