roughly $3.05 million project to reconstruct and widen part of West Second Street in Seymour has been a long time coming, city officials said.
But due to an error in paperwork, construction on the stretch of road from Lasher Drive near Central Christian Church west to Vehslage Road won’t begin for at least another month.
Mayor Craig Luedeman said Monday the contractor for the mostly state-funded project has changed because of what he called a “glitch” in how an application was filled out.
Originally, the project was awarded to King’s Excavating in Seymour. Once the mistake was discovered, however, the state went with the next approved and available contractor — Milestone in Columbus, Luedeman said.
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A preconstruction meeting between the city and Milestone is scheduled for next week.
“We’re about a month behind where we should be now,” Luedeman said. “I’m hoping we’ll start seeing dirt move by the end of July or first of August.”
The project calls for the reconstruction of the street, making it wider and adding drainage features including a new storm sewer, curbing, gutters and sidewalks.
With heavy rains, the road floods so bad that it often becomes impassable, Luedeman said.
Although the road will be closed in sections throughout the project, he said residents will have access to get to and from their homes.
“It will be dusty and dirty for a while,” he added.
The project has been a priority for the city, but because it’s being funded through grants awarded by the Indiana Department of Transportation, there have been many hoops to jump through to get to this point, Luedeman said.
The area was first targeted for improvements in the early 1990s, but those efforts and funding were shifted to construction of Burkart Boulevard on the city’s east side for the development of the Eastside Industrial Park.
Besides widening West Second Street to make it safer for motorists and pedestrians, another improvement included in the project is the addition of a sidewalk along the north side of the street.
That’s a benefit many residents, including JoAnna Garrett and Cheryl Ray, are looking forward to.
Garrett said she is losing about half of her front yard to the project. She’s lived in the neighborhood since 1996.
“I didn’t like losing my shade trees, but it will be worth it,” she said. “I have a grandbaby that likes to go for walks, so it will make it much nicer and safer once we get the sidewalks.”
The city purchased 46 parcels of property along both sides of the road for the expansion.
Luedeman said it’s a project that has long been needed, as the city continues to grow in that direction and more people use the street to bypass U.S. 50 to get into town.
The area has become dangerous for pedestrians, he added, because of an increase in the number of semitrailer rigs, other trucks and farm equipment that use it.
“It’s a safety issue more than anything,” he said. “There’s a lot of people that jog, walk and ride their bikes in that area, and there’s no way to get off the road when a car is coming.”
Ray who lives at Second Street and Western Parkway said she is losing more property than most.
“It’s actually impacting both our front and side yard,” she said. “We had to move one tree already, and our big pine we are going to donate to the city to use downtown for Christmas.”
But Ray said she is glad to be getting a sidewalk and a retaining wall.
“It’s going to look nice; and since there are so many kids that walk and ride their bikes along there, it will be safer too,” she said.
Although Milestone has 18 months to complete construction, Luedeman said the project is slated to be finished in September 2016. Most of the utilities along the project’s route have been relocated, but some other preparatory work is ongoing.
“This is one of the first projects in the state that the utilities are pretty much out of the way before the job starts, which is unheard of on an INDOT job,” Luedeman said.
In 2010, the city hired GAI Consultants of Indianapolis to design the improvements.
A second phase of the West Second Street project, which will extend improvements even farther west from Vehslage Road to Springhill Road near The Crossing subdivision, isn’t expected to get started now until 2017, Luedeman said.
“That could mean July 1, 2016, because that’s when the state starts its 2017 budget,” Luedeman said. “But they’ve also talked about moving projects that are slated for 2017 to 2018.”
Luedeman said he wanted to extend the road improvements past Vehslage to benefit residents in newer housing additions in that area, such as The Crossing.
Both phases together are estimated to cost around $4.5 million, city engineer Nathan Frey said.
The cost is broken down to $1.15 million for engineering costs, $890,000 for right of way acquisition and $3.05 million in construction costs.
The project is being funded by federal highway transportation grants awarded to the city by INDOT with a 20 percent match from the city.
Luedeman said the city has been saving that money for the past few years.
City councilman John Reinhart said he’s worried the road won’t last until 2017.
“I don’t know if Second Street can take another bad winter,” he said.
Luedeman said he fears the same thing.
The surface of the road continues to weaken and crumble at an alarming rate, leaving potholes bigger than car tires, Luedeman said.
Garrett said that’s been her biggest problem with the road, and she’s worried it’s causing damage to vehicles.
“One big issue for me has been the huge pothole that we call the basement at the end of my driveway,” she said. “We have filled it in multiple times, and there have been some people who have cut tires when they hit it.”
Most of the complaints the city has received are not about the work taking place or the inconveniences it will cause, but about the condition of the road itself, he added.
“It’s literally falling apart,” Luedeman said. “This is way overdue.”
Garrett said she’s worried about access to her driveway during the project, but not the noise, because she works during the day.
“It will be an inconvenience while it is being done, but it will be a big improvement and make it a lot nicer when it’s complete,” she said
City councilman Darrin Boas and his family have lived on West Second Street for many years, and before that, the home was owned by his grandfather.
Although he’s not looking forward to the next year of construction, detours, noise and dust from heavy machinery, or having to give up part of his front yard, Boas said he feels like it will be worth it in the end.
“I know it’s going to be a headache for 18 months, but I think we’ll be happy when it’s all done,” he said.