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County moves forward with road exchange

County moves forward with road exchange County moves forward with road exchange

The Harrison County Highway Dept. is preparing to take over sections of road that are currently state highway and has proposed an improvement plan it wants to begin next year for its portion of S.R. 111.

The Harrison County Board of Commissioners agreed earlier this year for the Indiana Dept. of Transportation to relinquish sections of state roads 11,  111 and 337 in exchange for the construction of a new state-maintained road connecting S.R. 135 and the intersection of state roads 11 and 337.

Former county highway engineer Kevin Russel told the commissioners at their meeting Monday night that some improvements to the county’s portion of S.R. 111, which is getting renamed to Old Highway 111, could start next year.

According to Russel, some sections of the road are only 17 feet wide but the county could widen the road to 20 feet for the entire stretch the county will maintain, which is from S.R. 211 to Old Dam 43 Road.

“The road is in pretty rough shape,” Russel said.

Work could begin in 2021 if the county can secure a Community Crossings Matching Grant through the state, which Russel said in a previous meeting INDOT would give Harrison County extra consideration if the county agreed to the relinquishing agreement.

The grant program allows counties and towns to apply for up to $1 million in a calendar year, with the state covering 75% of the grant. Applications for the next round of funding will be accepted beginning Monday, July 6, but, for the county to request funding for the road, it must update its road inventory with the county.

The commissioners unanimously approved to make the update Monday night.

Russel said if Harrison County is awarded a grant, the funds would be available in early 2021. He added the money could cover half the work and the county could apply for another Community Crossings grant in January, which would finish the widening project.

“You could do the entire length of the road in calendar year 2021,” Russel said. “And then, if you so chose, you could come back and put an inch of surface on it in 2022.”

Russel said he provided the commissioners with an estimate sheet on the road and offered to present the information to the Harrison County Council at an upcoming meeting.

“It would do us all a lot of good if you would go and bring them an update and show them what we’re going to be doing to 111 down there,” Commissioner Jim Heitkemper said.

He added this will make the road a lot better for the future.

Russel also said the county can prepare for rehabilitation work to Bridge 11 in Lanesville. When work would begin depends on if Lanesville Heritage Weekend takes place this September or not. The LHW Committee is expected to make a decision soon whether to cancel the annual event this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The county has the funding in its cumulative bridge fund to cover the project, according to Russel.

The commissioners are scheduled to meet again at 8:30 a.m. on Monday, July 6, at the government center in Corydon.

In other county business, Commissioner Kenny Saulman read a note in support of the county courthouse work he and the other two commissioners approved. The council has not approved the money to cover the bill the county has tallied for the work already done.

Saulman’s note covered when the decisions took place in public meetings the commissioners had and the amount that was approved.

“I hope that when this comes back before the council the next time, they will get this approved,” said Saulman, who celebrated a birthday Monday. “It’s all been done according to the way it’s suppose to be done.”

He added there are mildew and moisture issues at the courthouse that need to be fixed and the county has the money to do the work.

Also, Harrison County Sheriff Nick Smith said the county has installed the extra inmate beds, increasing the jail’s capacity from 173 beds to 213. Smith said there are empty beds right now but thinks it might be due to the pandemic that has forced many people to stay home. He added he thinks the beds will fill up when the community is fully re-opened.