On the road to repairs

As summer progresses, so does work to improve local streets and state highways.

Several road construction projects are underway in and around Seymour, making it difficult for motorists to avoid orange cones, yellow-vested workers and traffic congestion.

One area currently being worked on is Burkart Boulevard from State Street to North O’Brien Street near the new Burkart Crossing Apartments on the city’s northeast side. It’s a heavily traveled route that serves as a bypass for semitrailers traveling to and from the Eastside Industrial Park.

The first phase of the project included repairing broken concrete curbing and addressing drainage issues from stormwater flow off the Burkart overpass. Workers from Milestone Contractors in Columbus then repaired areas of structural failure in the pavement by digging deep into the road and filling them in.

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Now, they are preparing to mill three inches of the surface of the road and repave it with a fresh layer of asphalt, making it smooth for vehicles to travel over, officials said.

City engineer Nathan Frey referred to the work as a “maintenance” project.

“The dip that is currently there when you are getting onto the (overpass), that will all be fixed, and it’s going to look like a new road when it’s all done,” he said.

But the work won’t just benefit motorists, as some improvements being made from East Fourth Street to North O’Brien Street focus on pedestrians and people riding bicycles.

“We’re moving the centerline of the road over to the west and putting a 3-foot-wide curb line in, and the east shoulder will now be a multi-use path,” Frey said.

The path will be tied into the new sidewalks that go around the Burkart Crossing Apartments, he said.

“This is a piece of the city’s overall bicycle and pedestrian plan,” Frey said.

The work is expected to be complete by the end of July.

Because the project is 80 percent funded by federal transportation dollars through the Indiana Department of Transportation, the city only has to pay 20 percent or around $150,000 of the total project cost of $750,000. The city’s portion comes from local tax dollars, Frey said.

Residents will see a lot more roadwork being done this season as more money is being made available from the state specifically for road and bridge projects.

“A lot of this has been in the works or on our agenda for many years, and it’s just now getting done,” Frey said. “We have a lot of things that are culminating this summer.”

Similar work is being completed by INDOT to State Road 11 from Interstate 65 to U.S. 50, Frey said.

“They are doing some full-depth patching, some curb work and they did some work on some inlets and curb ramps,” he said. “Now, they are milling an inch-and-a-half of the road and putting new surface back on.”

The $1.5 million project on State Road 11 is an effort to keep the road in good driving condition, said Harry Maginity, INDOT media spokesperson.

Construction is being completed by Dave O’Mara Contractor Inc. of North Vernon.

O’Mara’s contract requires work to be completed by the middle of September.

Neither project is requiring a complete shutdown of the roads, but motorists should expect longer travel times, especially during morning, lunch and evening rush hours, as work will require lane closures.

The resurfacing coincides with another INDOT project that started this spring to replace a bridge that takes U.S. 31 over Sand Creek near the Bartholomew-Jackson county line. That work has resulted in the closure of U.S. 31 in the area for eight months.

The project includes resurfacing 16 miles of U.S. 31 from Base Road near Columbus to just south of U.S. 50 near Seymour, Maginity said.

City officials continue to work with the state to find ways to fund the city’s next major road project to build a south extension of Burkart Boulevard to connect it to Freeman Field.

Plans call to build the road through the area south of Silgan Plastics to State Road 11 and back through the airport, Frey said.

“We are in the early stages of that project,” he said. “We’re looking at construction in probably 2020, 2021.”

The city hired a designer for the project in January, and surveying and environmental studies have commenced.

Officials still haven’t selected the final route for the new road. A piece of the project includes the construction of an overpass over the railroad on North County Road 850E.

The project could carry a price tag of up to $30 million.

“We have about two or three different options in the Silgan area,” he said. “Once we’ve studied cost and environmental impact and impact to property owners, we will have a public hearing.”

The cost of building the entire south extension is about the same as it would be to construct a bridge over U.S. 50, he said.

The public hearing is tentatively scheduled for next spring, he added.

After getting feedback from the public hearing and making revisions to the plans based on that information, Frey said the city will begin purchasing property within that corridor to build the road and overpass.

He expects land acquisition to take up to two years.

“It sounds like it’s a long ways away, but the wheels are turning,” he said.