Bridge work planned on U.S. 31

The first of a series of bridge projects on U.S. 31 in Jackson County is expected to start soon.

The Indiana Department of Transportation recently posted signs near a bridge 1.13 miles north of the State Road 250 junction in Uniontown notifying motorists the highway will be closed on or after June 24. That’s expected to be a 30-day closure to replace a box culvert, and motorists’ alternate routes will be State Road 250 and Interstate 65.

Then INDOT will turn its attention to a bridge 2.2 miles south of State Road 250 between Uniontown and Crothersville near the turnoff to Retreat. U.S. 31 will be closed for 120 days.

The official detour will be Interstate 65. The emergency detour will be Moore Street in Crothersville, which turns into County Road 600S, and then turning onto County Road 1200E, which is a frontage road that runs north and south parallel to the interstate.

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In the event Moore Street is damaged by traffic taking that route, INDOT will fix it, said Danieta Foster, president of the Crothersville Town Council.

INDOT will be sending a contract for the town to sign and already had the county sign one for its roads involved, she said.

Several people expressed concern about the detour during a town council meeting earlier this month at the town hall.

Clerk-Treasurer Terry Richey said it will be difficult for northbound semitrailers to turn onto Moore Street if they take the emergency detour.

Councilman Lenvel “Butch” Robinson agreed.

“If a semi tries to take that turn north, you’ve got a real problem,” he said.

Police Chief Matt Browning said the frontage road already is in bad shape, and town attorney Jeff Lorenzo said he expects semitrailers to get stuck while trying to make turns.

“I don’t think it will be too safe for any semis to go out through there,” Councilman Bob Lyttle said. “People are going to have trouble all of the time.”

If I-65 is closed because of a wreck, motorists take U.S. 31. When that road is closed for the bridge work, they will have to take the frontage road to get around Crothersville. The only other route is Main Street turning into County Road 600S, but that road often floods.

Brad Bender with FPBH Inc. told the council to carefully look at the contract when it’s received.

“Their posted detour is I-65, but they know that other people, especially locals, are going to take other roads. That’s just all there is to it,” he said. “Then some of those local people are going to be semis and farm trucks and whoever else. They put forth these contracts that then they’ll repair it. You want to look closely at the contract, I can tell you that. I’ve heard in the past controversies over the repairs that were made.”

INDOT also plans to resurface the bridge on U.S. 31 on the north edge of town near Seymour Road.

Finally, the state will redo the overpass over I-65 between Uniontown and Seymour and a bridge a mile north of the U.S. 50 junction in Seymour, but some of that work may not begin until 2020.