County road repairs delayed

As many as a half-dozen Bartholomew County roads scheduled to get new blacktop this year may not be upgraded before winter weather arrives.

With about 77 percent of the 2016 overlay projects now complete, crews from Milestone Contractors Inc. began pulling back this week for a variety of reasons, Bartholomew County Highway engineer Danny Hollander said.

The county’s contract with Milestone contains a provision that allows paving crews to do the overlay work when time permits. That consideration is a routine part of overlay contracts signed each spring that’s allowed in exchange for lower prices, the engineer said.

Milestone needs most or all of its crews for the rest of the month in to meet deadlines on private projects, Hollander said.

Two other factors:

Some roads have not yet been prepared by county crews.

Nearly $1 million in funding for five miles of roads was only announced by the state in late August, and didn’t become available until mid-September.

In May, the Bartholomew County commissioners awarded the lion’s share of the 29-mile overlay project — $1,336,538 — to Milestone, while Dave O’Mara Contractors of North Vernon received $38,263 in contracts.

Both contractors have found themselves swamped with work due to record-low asphalt prices, an abundance of private developments and ambitious overlay projects in other Indiana counties, Hollander said.

Contractors have reassured the county that they plan to have their crews resume blacktopping in November, and keep on working until a few days before Christmas, Hollander said.

However, the highway engineer said meteorologists are predicting cold air to arrive late next month, followed quickly by snow that might remain in place until January.

If that happens, some of the roads will have to wait until spring to receive a new layer of asphalt, Hollander said.

The county announced in early September that workers had completed about 100 miles of roads in the annual chip-and-seal program.

While the expense varies by road width, it costs taxpayers almost four times more to put down new blacktop than it does to make chip-and-seal repairs that involve mixing asphalt and gravel, the engineer said.

Although not as popular with the public as the overlay program, chip-and-seal can still add about five additional years of life for a road, Hollander said.

Uncompleted roads

Work to repave these six roads on the 2016 Bartholomew County overlay project has not yet been completed:

  • County Road 500W, from Georgetown Road to Ohio Ridge Road.
  • County Road 100N, from the city limits to County Road 200W.
  • Carr Hill Road, from Interstate 65 to Morgan Willow Trace.
  • County Road 500E, from County Road 600S to County Road 700S.
  • County Road 450E, from County Road 800S to County Road 850S.
  • County Road 800S, from U.S. 31 to County Road 450E.
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Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at mwebber@therepublic.com or 812-379-5636.