INDOT to discuss overpass

Indiana Department of Transportation officials want to meet with city leaders and representatives from the Louisville & Indiana and CSX railroads to talk about the need for an overpass over the State Road 11/State Road 46 interchange on the western edge of downtown Columbus.

Mayor Jim Lienhoop said INDOT requested the meeting specifically seeking more information about the overpass project and a possible railroad schedule. A meeting date has not yet determined, he said.

The city continues to be optimistic that INDOT will provide funding for the overpass, Lienhoop said.

“In the end, it’s their decision and we want to make sure they have all the information they need,” Lienhoop said.

The city has proposed building an overpass over the railroad tracks at the State Road 11/State Road 46 interchange as the railroads prepare to send longer, faster and heavier CSX trains north through the city starting in late 2018.

The railroads are installing high-speed rail on the line north of Seymour this summer, and then will begin work on replacing the railroad bridge over the Flatrock River in Columbus.

The city hired American StructurePoint to study the impact of the upgraded line, with the consultants predicting that Columbus will have as many as 22 trains a day traveling through the State Road 46 intersection and through the downtown area compared to eight now.

Columbus’ proposed response to the railroad’s plans is to add a pretzel pattern of ramps around the overpass on the east side of the railroad tracks so that drivers entering or leaving Columbus won’t be delayed at State Road 46.

The city is also proposing to move the railroad tracks west from their current location, creating new grade crossings at Tellman Road, County Road 100N and Indianapolis Road, where the tracks will meet the original railroad alignment heading north.

In March, the city proposed that INDOT pay $20 million for the cost of the overpass plan, with the city coming up with the remainder of the funding. Cost of the overpass and pretzel configuration has been estimated at $20 million to $25 million, while the overall cost for the overpass and railroad alignment is being estimated at $94 million or more.

City officials had hoped to hear from INDOT this spring whether the overpass project would make INDOT’s list of projects for 2021, the mayor said in an earlier interview.

Dave Hayward, executive director of public works/city engineer, said INDOT has given no indication as to whether it plans to fund the overpass project, noting that the state agency is also considering other projects from cities across the state.

The meeting is not planned to be open to the public, Hayward said.

Current work

The Louisville & Indiana Railroad and CSX Railroad are upgrading all rail line between Seymour and Indianapolis. Crews from the R.J. Corman Railroad Group of Nicholasville, Kentucky, began work in Bartholomew County the weekend of April 22.

The crossing-closing schedule is tentative and may change, said Andrea Janka, spokeswoman for Safety Services & Supply Inc. of Lima, Ohio, which is handling traffic and public-safety aspects of the project.

Areas scheduled to be closed for work, by day, include:

Today and Thursday: Crossings at County Road 400N, County Road 450N, County Road 500N and possibly County Road 550N

Friday: Crossings at Kiel Brothers, Homer Arnholt and Meek

Saturday: Crossings at Dunlap, Industrial Road, Shelby Materials, and possibly Kiel Brothers and Homer Arnholt

Sunday: Crossings at Kiel Brothers, Homer Arnholt, Meek, Dunlap, Industrial Road, Shelby Materials and County Road 550N

Monday: Crossings at County Road 550N, a private road crossing at mile 35, Tannehill Road and possibly County Road 500N and Mill Street

Tuesday: Crossings at Mill Street, County Road 700N, a private road crossing at mile 33 and County Road 800N

May 24: Crossings at County Road 550N, a private road crossing at mile 35, Tannehill Road and possibly County Road 500N and Mill Street

May 25: Crossings at Mill Street, County Road 700N, a private road crossing at mile 33 and County Road 800N

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Matt Kent is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at 812-379-5712 or mkent@therepublic.com