State of the City to cover substance abuse, projects

Ongoing city projects and work involving the Alliance for Substance Abuse Progress initiative will be highlighted next month during Mayor Jim Lienhoop’s State of the City speech.

Lienhoop will speak March 8 at The Commons, focusing on the next steps ahead for the ASAP initiative, which is overseen by Lienhoop, Bartholomew County Commissioner Carl Lienhoop and Jim Bickel, president and CEO of Columbus Regional Health.

The organizational structure of the initiative created in 2017 has action teams focused on prevention, intervention and treatment and recovery from opiate addictions. Lienhoop said partnering with different entities such as the Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. on creating educational programs will be a focus of the initiative this year.

A second focus tied to the ASAP initiative will involve identifying locations where individuals batting substance abuse can receive treatment, he said.

“We want to be able to point those out,” Lienhoop said.

Retired Cummins engineer Jeff Jones, who oversees ASAP in a volunteer capacity, will also provide remarks during the mayor’s address.

Lienhoop said he will also speak about ongoing city projects such as the Columbus Riverfront, State Street Revitalization and a $30 million railroad overpass at the State Road 46/State Road 11 intersection scheduled to begin in 2019.

The overpass is being constructed to help commuters deal with a projected increase in train traffic traveling through the city.

The state has agreed to pick up $15 million, half of the project’s estimated $30 million overall cost, while the city and its partners — Cummins, Bartholomew County government and the Louisville & Indiana and CSX railroads — will cover the remaining $15 million.

The Columbus Riverfront project has been estimated at $8.6 million and calls for several overlooks of the East Fork White River downtown, connections to the People Trail system and an in-water recreation park. The project encompasses the area between the Second and Third street bridges.

Lienhoop said the city wants to make the Riverfront a destination for residents and visitors. He hopes to see extension of the People Trail among the first improvements made in the area, he said.

“We’re trying to activate the Riverfront,” Lienhoop said. “We’d like to be able to present something that’s more appealing than what we have today.”

In addition, Lienhoop said he will provide an update on the State Street Revitalization Project, which has already brought red architectural vertical elements with LED lights to the Haw Creek Bridge. New pedestrian sidewalks on the south side of the bridge and a multi-use trail on the north side with decorative elements have been added as part of the project, which is being completed in phases.

Two plazas on each side of the bridge with benches, brick pavers and lighting are also among the improvements that have been made.

Lienhoop described 2017 as a remarkable year for Columbus, highlighted by Exhibit Columbus, 18 temporary installations showcased Aug. 26 through Nov. 26 at different locations in the city.

In addition, Lienhoop praised approval of a master of architecture degree program offered through Indiana University that will be based at the IU Center for Art and Design in downtown Columbus. The program will begin this fall.

If you go

What: State of the City address

When: Address will begin at 6 p.m. March 8

Where: The Commons, 300 Washington St.

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