Adding salt to open wounds

A four-year effort by the Bartholomew County Highway Department to replace a wooden salt barn continues to run into obstacles.

After the county announced it had budgeted $350,000 to build a new 40-foot-tall salt and sand storage barn at 2452 State St., the plan was criticized during the county’s recent budget discussions.

Some people said they thought there should be no new construction at a time when county government was considering laying off workers due to financial constraints.

But the county, which could face stiff fines from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management for continuing to leave exposed road salt on the ground, still moved ahead with its plans to build a 9,600-square-foot structure with a 1,200-ton capacity — three times more than the current salt barn.

But all four construction bids all came in well over budget. The lowest bid of $527,000 was received from Dunlap and Co. of Columbus, while the most expensive was $765,000.

Because most local construction firms have plenty of work being generated by the private sector, several bids received for various public projects have come in higher than normal this year, Commissioners Chairman Larry Kleinhenz said.

All four bids were rejected, and the county plans to list specific cost-cutting measures when it rebids the project, project consultant Charlie Day of DLZ Indiana Inc. said.

New bids are scheduled to be opened Dec. 28.

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Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at mwebber@therepublic.com or 812-379-5636.