Nearly a half-million dollars has been awarded in a state matching grant to fund extensive repairs to one of Bartholomew County’s most-traveled roads.
State officials announced Tuesday that $467,400 has been awarded to upgrade Southern Crossing from U.S. 31 to State Road 11, Bartholomew County Highway engineer Danny Hollander said.
Southern Crossing is heavily traveled by employees heading to manufacturing jobs in the Woodside Industrial Park area and provides a vital link between U.S. 31 near Elizabethtown to State Road 11 near Walesboro.
The financial award is part of a combined $115 million in state-matching funds being spent on 189 Indiana road projects through the Next Level Roads: Community Crossings Initiative.
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Hollander first brought up the rapid deterioration of Southern Crossing to county officials in May 2018. At that time, the county was only considering spending $228,600 repaving the 2.5 miles of roads and bridges on the western portion of the roadway.
With the 30-foot-wide pavement deteriorating noticeably faster than comparable roads, county officials did an extensive amount of testing to determine the best way to address the problem, so the road can handle the stress caused by heavy traffic, Hollander said.
Testing that included more than 50 sample borings did indicate some expensive upgrades are needed between some of the bridges. Hollander said most work will involve removing a few inches of unstable soil and restoring the road.
The city of Columbus did not request any funds through Community Crossings during this latest round of funding, said Dave Hayward, Columbus’ executive director of public works and city engineer.
Since the city received a $1 million matching grant through the program last November that will fund six street overlay projects, state officials asked the city to sit out this latest funding round, so other Indiana communities can receive money, Hayward said.
In addition to Bartholomew County, two cities in south central Indiana have also been awarded matching grants through the same program administered by the Indiana Department of Transportation.
In Jennings County, the town of North Vernon will receive $570,370 for overlay work.
Employees of the community of 6,700 residents did an inventory of all of North Vernon’s streets, and ranked their condition from best to worst on a scale of 1 to 10, said Rick Marksberry, who manages the North Vernon Street Department.
North Vernon Mayor Mike Ochs said the five worst streets on that inventory that will be repaired include sections of Brownstown Road, Buckeye St., East O&M Avenue, Betty Cull Drive and Jennings County Road 350N.
In Jackson County, the city of Seymour received a matching grant in an unusual amount: $999,999.99.
Even just a penny short of $1 million, Seymour Mayor Craig Luedeman said there are state regulatory guidelines that sometimes require certain grants to be issued in unusual amount.
But Luedeman isn’t worried about the penny. The mayor said his city asked for $1 million, and this is the first time Seymour has received the full amount requested through the Community Crossings Initiative.
The town has identified at least 15 different roads located in a variety of neighborhoods that will receive a new coat of blacktop through the matching grant program, Luedeman said.
The Indiana Department of Transportation now accepts applications in both January and July for the Community Crossings initiative, with a $1 million cap annually per community. But state law requires that 50 percent of available funds be awarded to communities within counties with a population of 50,000 or fewer.
To qualify for funding, local governments must provide local matching funds, 50 percent for larger communities or 25 percent for smaller communities, from a funding source approved for road and bridge construction.
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The state has announced the following area recipients for the Next Level Roads: Community Crossing grants. They include:
- Bartholomew County: $467,400
- Brown County: $1 million
- Decatur County: $999,974.95
- Jennings County: $994,227.50
- North Vernon: $570,370.65
- Seymour: $999,999.99