In the interest of public safety, the Bartholomew County Commissioners have decided that putting stripes on two newly paved county roads can’t wait until the annual repaving program is completed.
County officials have received numerous complaints about the lack of road markings on Southern Crossing, which recently received new blacktop west of U.S. 31. Similar complaints also have been made about an improved section of Youth Camp Road.
Southern Crossing links U.S. 31 and State Road 11 in southern Bartholomew County and has the only bridge across East Fork White River between Columbus and Azalia.
Bartholomew County Commissioners President Larry Kleinhenz is worried that shorter days, as well as fog and rain, will make driving conditions worse on unmarked roads heading into the fall.
“When you pave a county road, you obviously cover up all the striping that was there,” Kleinhenz said. “But now, you’ve got black new asphalt. As autumn arrives, it gets hard for drivers, especially older people, to see where they are going and stay on the road.”
On Tuesday, the commissioners tentatively awarded the contract for striping newly paved roads to Indiana Sign and Barricade. The Indianapolis-based company had the low bid of $26,929 to put lane markings and other striping on the new asphalt.
The problem is that there’s still five to six miles of paving left in this year’s 30-mile paving program, according to County Highway Department engineer Danny Hollander. He added contractors usually wait until the entire paving project is finished before beginning the striping job.
“We bid them all out, and they do them at one time while they are here,” Hollander said. “But all the roads aren’t paved now. And on one road, we have to replace a culvert before we can pave it.”
Kleinhenz said the county will first ask Indiana Sign and Barricade to get the striping done on both Southern Crossing and Youth Camp Road next week, if possible.
However, if the company can’t comply, the commissioners will ask them to exclude both of those roads from the contract, and assign county crews to do the necessary striping themselves.
“If the company takes a week, that’s fine,” Kleinhenz told Hollander on Tuesday. “But if they can’t get to Southern Crossing and Youth Camp Road for three to four weeks, we’ll have to get out there and do it ourselves.”
Hollander expects all striping will be completed in five to six weeks.