Long-term plans for Lowell Road, other transportation projects in the works

Extensive and expensive improvements along Lowell Road are being planned by the Columbus Area Metropolitan Planning Organization over the next several years.

CAMPO has two phases of renovations for the increasingly busy road northwest of Columbus in the first draft of its proposed four-year Transportation Improvement Program.

The $2.39 million phase-one renovation involves improvements from County Road 325W to Interstate 65. Federal funds of about $1.9 million will be used to pay most costs. About $478,000 in matching local funds will be invested.

But the second and final phase, estimated to have a $3.57 million pricetag, isn’t scheduled to get underway for another six years.

Although phase two involves improvements from Interstate 65 east to Indianapolis Road, most of the funding won’t become available until at least 2024, the preliminary plan states.

The first draft of the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) was revealed during CAMPO’s March 27 Policy Board meeting.

While a new TIP plan is created every four years, priorities are revised every two years, and funding amounts — which often change, due to a variety of factors — have to be updated about six times annually, city-county planner Jeff Bergman said.

“Everyone needs to keep in mind this is a living document,” Bergman said. “Timelines may shift up or shift back.”

Public comment on all proposed 2018-2021 projects, including Lowell Road, will be accepted through Friday. The Policy Board will consider adopting the plan when it meets at 1:30 p.m. on May 8 at Columbus City Hall.

TIP is mainly used to prioritize all transportation projects involving the $1.7 million received annually for Bartholomew County from the Federal Highway Administration, as well as designated projects with a regional significance, regardless of their funding source, Bergman said.

Those projects might involve road construction, bridge rehabilitation and replacement, Safe Routes to School projects, People Trail connections, transit enhancements, and other transportation-related projects, CAMPO executive director Laura Thayer said.

Since it’s usually a minimum of five years from the time a federally funded project is conceived to the time construction begins, the establishment and revision of priorities is essential, Bergman said.

When reviewing the TIP plan, residents are reminded that when a specific year is stated, it is referring to Indiana’s Fiscal Year. The beginning of FY 2018 is July 1 of this year, for example.

One FY 2018 proposal is setting up railroad quiet zones in downtown Columbus.

These are areas containing one or more intersections where safety improvements such as lights and gates will be installed, so that locomotive horns don’t have to be routinely sounded, Bergman said.

FY 2018 is also the year the newest extension of People Trail over Haw Creek, which will utilize the former historic Newbern Bridge a few blocks south of Eastbrook Plaza, is scheduled for completion.

A project in the works for some time that’s now scheduled for FY 2019 involves $2 million in improvements along Westenedge Drive, between National Road and Rocky Ford Road.

In addition, about $523,000 in improvements will be made at the intersection of State Road 7 at County Road 450E.

Walkers, runners and bicyclists can look forward to a People Trail connection between Noblitt and Donner parks in FY 2020. It will include a long-anticipated pedestrian crossing at the intersection of 17th and Washington streets, Bergman said.

An even longer connection between Donner and Lincoln parks should get underway in FY 2021, Thayer said.

Bike and moped lanes will be added to two Interstate 65 overpasses when they are replaced by the Indiana Department of Transportation in FY 2021. The overpasses are located along Carr Hill Road and County Road 200S.

National stories regarding anticipated drops in federal funding for such programs as Community Development Block Grants and Transit projects have been in the news recently.

But Thayer doesn’t believe funding for TIP projects obtained through the Federal Highway Administration are in jeopardy.

“As far as I know, the attitude in Washington is that we need to continue to fix our roads,” Thayer said.

Make your opinions known

Comments and questions on the 2018-2021 Transportation Improvement Program developed by the Columbus Area Metropolitan Planning Organization will be accepted through Friday.

The proposed plan can be found on the City of Columbus website. Visit columbus.in.gov/planning/campo/transportation-improvement-program/

Comments can be mailed to:

Laura Thayer, CAMPO

123 Washington Street

Columbus IN 47201

Comments can also be emailed to: lthayer@columbus.in.gov

The public is also invited to attend and also offer comments at the upcoming CAMPO Policy Board meeting, 1:30 p.m. May 8 in the second-floor council chambers at Columbus City Hall.

TIP overview

The following are major upcoming projects listed in the 2018-2021 Transportation Improvement Program. Rather than January through December, the years stated below reflect Indiana’s fiscal year. FY 2018 begins July 1 of this year.

FY 2018

  • Design phase of the Lowell Road Phase 1 project from County Road 325W to Interstate 65: $450,000.
  • Completion of a People Trail extension over Hawcreek, south of 25th Street:  $92,800 federal and $23,200 matching.
  • Establishment of railroad quiet zones in downtown Columbus: $640,000 in federal funds with $160,000 matching.

FY 2019

  • Improvements to Westenedge Drive, between National Road and Rocky Ford Road: $1,656,000 in federal funds, with $414,000 matching.
  • Improvements at the intersection of State Road 7 at County Road 450E: The $523,000 project is under the jurisdiction of the Indiana Department of Transportation.

FY 2020

  • Reconstruction of Taylor Road, from 25th Street to Rocky Ford Road, to be completed in FY 2021: $3,352,000 in federal funds and $838,000 matching.
  • Extension of a People Trail connection from Noblitt Park to Donner Park; includes a new pedestrian crossing at 17th and Washington streets: $84,100 in federal funds, with $9,400 matching.

FY 2021

  • Addition of bike and moped lanes to both Carr Hill Road and County Road 200S, west and east of Interstate 65 as part of an overpass replacement project; overpass reconstruction will be under the jurisdiction of the Indiana Department of Transportation: Each project is expected to cost $100,000 in local funds.
  • Extension of a People Trail connection along 19th Street, from Donner Park to Lincoln Park: $158,400 in federal funds, and $17,600 matching.

The cost of preliminary engineering work for the following long-term projects is included in the four-year Transportation Improvement Program.

FY 2022

  • Construction of the Lowell Road Phase 1 project from County Road 325W to Interstate 65: $1,939,366.
  • Downtown Riverwalk along Water Street, along the White River bank to the Mill Race People Trail: $920,000 in federal funds and $230,000 matching.

FY 2023

  • Reconstruction of County Road 350W from Goeller Road to State Road 46, and from Oakbrook Drive to County Road 350W: $3 million in federal, with $750,000 in matching funds.

FY 2024

  • Phase two of Lowell Road, from Interstate 65 to Indianapolis Road, to be completed in FY 2025: $2,855,393 in federal funds and $713,848 in matching.
  • Renovations to Talley Road, from 25th Street to Rocky Ford Road, to be completed in FY 2025: $2,196,000 in federal funds and $740,000 in matching.

On the Web

Find the city’s proposed Transportation Improvement Program on the City of Columbus website. Visit columbus.in.gov/planning/campo/transportation-improvement-program/

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