To complete the Burkart Boulevard South Bypass project, the city of Seymour will be acquiring property from Seymour Community School Corp.
The city has notified the school system of plans to use school-owned property through eminent domain near Seymour-Jackson Elementary School.
Eminent domain is the process by which government can take private property for public use with fair compensation.
The city plans to build a new road that will connect Burkart Boulevard from East Tipton Street (U.S. 50) to Airport Road and West Tipton Street.
The school property needed by the city includes 10 to 11 acres of farm ground and will impact the corporation’s access to and egress from Jackson, the district’s transportation building, central office, the new ag science facility and farm fields, school officials said.
Superintendent Rob Hooker informed the school board Aug. 14. of the pending action by the city.
There is also a possibility the project will affect the parking at Developmental Services Inc., located at 1820 First Ave. in Freeman Field, which is property the school corporation may own, Hooker said.
“We will have to research that to see if they (DSI) own it or we do,” he said. “The appraisers informed us that perhaps the school board actually owns it and leases it to them, but we have to find that out.”
The city will have to pay for all the property to be appraised first and then negotiate a purchase price with the school corporation.
“As time passes, we will figure out what they’re planning to pay for approximately 11 acres along this new project, and we’ll see what the impact is,” Hooker said.
School board trustee Nancy Franke said since the new road will be near an elementary school, she’s concerned the added traffic will make the area less safe for students.
Hooker said he has been told the city plans to close some existing roads in Freeman Field to better control the flow of traffic and potentially install roundabouts where the new road will cross South Walnut Street (State Road 11) and on Airport Road.
With heavy traffic in the area already, including semitrailers going to and leaving factories and warehouses in the Freeman Field Industrial Park, Hooker said adding bypass traffic likely will be an issue.
Franke also expressed concerns about the project’s impact on agriculture students.
“It cuts right through the farm field where our ag students will be working,” she said.
The property was gifted to the school by a family at the end of World War II to be used for agricultural programs and educational purposes for students.
“When it’s eminent domain, about the only option the school board has is negotiating the price,” Hooker said.
The bypass project has an estimated $20 million price tag.
Construction on the first phase will begin in 2020 and will take Burkart Boulevard from U.S. 50 on the east side of the city south through farm fields to South O’Brien Street near Silgan Plastics.
The project includes construction of a railroad overpass to give motorists a route for getting around trains traveling on the Louisville and Indiana Railroad line, which runs through the city bisecting it into east and west halves. The overpass will cross the rail line southeast of Silgan and just north of East County Road 340N.
It will take two years to build Phase I.
The second phase of the south extension project will connect Burkart to Freeman Field by taking the route to South Airport Road, which will then reconnect with U.S. 50 on the west side of the city.
Along with the new road, the overall project also includes a 12-foot-wide walking and biking trail.
Once both phases are completed, motorists, especially semitrailer traffic, will be able to bypass Seymour from the intersection of U.S. 50 and Airport Road to Burkart Boulevard and U.S. 50.