Highway dept. seeks federal grants for 2 bridge rehab projects
Kaitlyn Clay, Staff Writer, [email protected]
The Harrison County Highway Dept. will apply for two federal grants in order to update and rehabilitate two bridges in the county. But, in order to apply for the grants, Mel-Quick Miller, assistant superintendent at the highway department, needed the county council chair and vice chair to sign off on a financial commitment letter.
The grant application is for funds that will be used in the 2026 fiscal year, but the deadline for submissions is Dec. 11, 2020.
Quick-Miller gave an overview to the council on the health of many bridges in the county, based on a 2018 bridge inspection that was done.
The main bridge of concern was Bridge No. 25, on Corydon-New Middletown Road right off of S.R. 62 east of Corydon.
Quick-Miller explained that the bridge is starting to rust due to salt and water. She also said that there is a possibility the bridge would need to be widened, but it more than likely will not. However, she is including the price of the widening in her request but noted she will be able to submit for less funds if United Consulting decides the bridge does not require that expansion.
The total net cost of this project, including the possibility of the widening of the bridge, is $2,812,500. Quick-Miller asked the county to appropriate $1,012,500, with $450,000 of that being reimbursed and $562,500 coming out of the cumulative bridge fund.
Councilman Gary Byrne made a motion, which was seconded by Brad Wiseman, to have the council chair and vice chair sign a financial commitment letter for this bridge’s grant. The motion passed 7-0.
The second bridge Quick-Miller is applying for grant money for does not have a designated bridge number yet but is located on Old Highway 337 over Buck Creek. This bridge had some preliminary work done to it in the past, she said, but that project was not fully completed before the Harrison County Highway Dept. inherited the bridge from the state.
The bridge was slated for a rehabilitation project in 2022 from INDOT, which is why Quick-Miller said it was at the top of her priority list.
The total cost on this project is $1,282,855. With the grant, the county is asked to appropriate $489,495, and will be reimbursed $232,924. Ultimately, $256,571 will be spent from the cumulative bridge fund.
This request had further discussion with it as a couple council members had questions regarding if spending funds on this project would hinder any future county bridges from receiving funds.
Councilman Kyle Nix said his only fear with this project was that if they put a large portion of money from the cumulative bridge fund into this rehabilitation project, on a bridge that was previously owned by the state, that it could shortchange an existing county bridge.
“If we are looking out to 2025, I want to make sure we have ample funds to take care of all of our bridges, not the state highway bridges,” Nix said. “I don’t want to shortchange a single bridge we have in this county that we didn’t take over. That’s a commitment that we have to the county.”
Quick-Miller was adamant in noting that it didn’t matter how the county became in control of each of the bridges, but that it was the county’s responsibility to take care of them now.
“I want to make sure the people in Harrison County who drive over the roads — I don’t care how we got them — are safe,” she said, “The bridges are my responsibility now, and I take that extremely seriously and so does our bridge crew.”
After further discussion, Jennie Capelle made a motion, seconded by Wiseman, to have the council chair and vice chair sign a financial commitment letter for this bridge’s grant. The motion passed, 6-1, with Byrne voting against it.
The council’s next meeting is scheduled for Monday, Dec. 14, at 7 p.m. at the government center in Corydon.