Agreement for overpass OK’d

An interlocal agreement between the City of Columbus and Bartholomew County that outlines financial responsibilities for the State Road 46/State Road 11 overpass has been signed by the Bartholomew County commissioners.

While the city will be the main government entity dealing with the Indiana Department of Transportation to build the $30 million structure, county government has now formally committed to providing $2 million toward the overpass project.

It’s a commitment that was questioned by some local residents who spoke last week against a proposed 40 percent increase in the county’s local income tax.

During last week’s hearings, three speakers questioned the council on why the cash-strapped county was paying such a large sum for a state highway project.

County government’s overriding concern is competition from other communities along the same rail line facing similar traffic problems that will result from longer and more frequent trains, commissioner Rick Flohr said Monday.

If non-state sources, including Columbus and Bartholomew County, contribute half the money, the state has justification for providing Columbus an equal amount, Flohr said.

But if either those same non-state sources don’t contribute half the costs, the state will have an incentive to spend their $15 million elsewhere, the commissioner said.

Other previously committed overpass funding sources include:

$4 million from the city’s Central Tax Increment Finance District funds.

About $5.5 million from the Cummins Engine Plant Tax Increment Finance District funds.

$1.5 million from CSX and Louisville & Indiana Railroads

Up to $2.5 million from state or federal highway programs (tentative) along with possible cost savings within the project.

Meanwhile, negotiations that would set Nov. 19 as the start of major construction — instead of 2022 — are still ongoing, said Dave Hayward, executive director of public works and city engineer.

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