The future of Columbus looks bright following a successful 2017 that resulted in job growth, a strong local economy and several city projects that will continue this year.
Those were among points highlighted during Mayor Jim Lienhoop’s State of the City address Thursday at The Commons, which drew an estimated crowd of nearly 300 people.
Lienhoop, making his third State of the City address, touched on the city’s Columbus Riverfront project, Exhibit Columbus and a new Indiana University master’s degree program in architecture that will be based in Columbus. The first-term mayor, elected in 2015, also highlighted the city’s railroad overpass project at the State Road 46/State Road 11 intersection that is expected to begin in 2019. The $30 million overpass is being constructed to deal with a projected increase in train traffic through Columbus.
The state has agreed to pick up $15 million of the cost, while other partners have also chipped in — including the city, Bartholomew County, Cummins Inc., and the Louisville & Indiana and CSX railroads. The railroad will eventually see longer, faster and heavier trains traveling through the city that will impact motorists, Lienhoop said.
“We’ve been given a taste of what that will mean for morning and afternoon commutes, but we’ve yet to see the full implementation of this activity,” Lienhoop said.
Lienhoop said progress is being made on the project, joking that it remains “on track,” as work is underway on a roadway alignment. Right-of-way acquisitions are among next steps ahead on the railroad overpass project, he said.
For more on this story, see Saturday’s Republic.