County road to gain traffic during highway project

An upgrade for a southern Shelby County highway also is likely to create headaches along Road 800N in Bartholomew County for the next two years.

Last fall, crews began demolition and clearing activities along State Road 252 between Interstate 65 and the unincorporated town of Flat Rock. Once completed, utility relocation will take place this winter and spring along the 6.2-mile stretch of highway.

But that’s just the beginning. This summer, the Indiana Department of Transportation is expected to hire a contractor for making full-depth pavement repairs and sight-distance corrections before widening the southern Shelby County highway to accommodate two 12-foot lanes with 6-foot shoulders.

While the work crews are expected to focus on the I-65 and State Road 252 interchange this year, they won’t move east toward Flat Rock until next year, INDOT spokesman Harry Maginity said.

Although an official detour utilizes State Road 9 and State Road 46 through Columbus will be posted, local drivers aren’t going to go that far out of their way, said Danny Hollander, Bartholomew County highway engineer.

Both he and Maginity understand motorists familiar with the area will instead taken an unofficial detour: County Road 800N, from U.S. 31 north of the Edinburgh Premium Outlets east to State Road 9, Hollander said.

“The next construction season is going to be terrible,” Bartholomew County commissioner Carl Lienhoop said after receiving the update. “But we can’t stop progress.”

Since 800N will be temporarily taking on a larger volume of traffic, including more heavy trucks, INDOT has agreed to reimburse the county highway department for any damages to the road going through St. Louis Crossing, Hollander said.

The road work on State Road 252 will include the refurbishment of the bridges in the Flat Rock River area, Maginity said.

However, since the section of State Road 252 east of Flat Rock is only 10 years old, improvements between the town and State Road 9, where the roads intersect five miles north of Hope, will not be necessary, he said.

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