Use of EDIT funds OK’d; County targets $3.38 million for capital projects

Bartholomew County has approved a plan to use Economic Development Income Tax money primarily for road and building improvements.

The Bartholomew County commissioners on Monday voted 2-0 to approve a resolution adopting a capital improvement plan of $3.38 million, using the county’s portion of EDIT funds for 2018 and 2019. Commissioner Carl Lienhoop was absent from the meeting.

Items include up to $825,000 to be used toward improvements to county buildings, up to $403,000 for improvements other than county buildings and up to $90,000 to be used for the purchase and repair of machinery and equipment.

Some of the money will be used for previously approved improvements such as replacing the roof for the county’s government office building at 430 Third St. in downtown Columbus, Bartholomew County Commissioner Rick Flohr said. In January, commissioners approved a contract with Foster Contracting LLC, based in Greenwood, for $122,000.

Other uses of EDIT funds during calendar years 2018 and 2019 will go toward the county’s share of a railroad overpass project at the State Road 46/State Road 11 intersection. The county agreed to fund $2 million toward the project, with $1.5 million of that already paid, Flohr said.

The remaining $500,000 will be paid in two remaining installments this year and again in 2019, the commissioner said. Any money to be spent on projects within the capital improvement plan will require approval by the Bartholomew County Council, he said.

The state has agreed to pick up $15 million, half of the overpass project’s estimated $30 million overall cost, while other partners have also chipped in — including the city of Columbus, Cummins Inc., and the Louisville & Indiana and CSX railroads. The overpass is being constructed to deal with a projected increase in train traffic through Columbus.

The capital improvement plan also calls for spending up to $1.5 million for costs and expenses tied to the construction of a new highway garage facility and up to $300,000 for county road improvement projects other than overlay and chip-and-seal, according to the resolution.

“The plan kind of gives us a direction, but we can always change it,” Bartholomew County commissioner Larry Kleinhenz said.

Commissioners also approved a contract Monday with United Consulting for $535,343 to perform county bridge inspections. The work is mandated by the federal government every two years, county highway engineer Danny Hollander said.

Of that contract amount, the county will be reimbursed 80 percent by the federal government.

Bartholomew County has 203 county bridges that will be inspected starting in the middle of the summer that will involve initial field work expected to take five weeks, said Dave Richter, president of United Consulting.

The firm will be evaluating the bridges’ structure and superstructure while also making a determination whether there is any evidence of scour on the bridges, Richter said. In addition, United Consulting will also look at the beams on the bridges to see if they are corroding, he added.

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