Brownstown Town Council eyes South Sugar Street for paving funding



After receiving a state grant for the first time in 2019 to make improvements to streets, the Brownstown Town Council plans to apply for funding again this year.

Last year was the first time the Indiana Department of Transportation offered two calls for projects through the Next Level Roads: Community Crossings Initiative with applications being accepted in January and July. Communities could only apply for up to $1 million once.

With the deadline approaching for the first call this year, Bernie Hauersperger with FPBH Inc. asked the Brownstown Town Council during a recent meeting if it wants to pursue funding now or wait until the summer. The targeted road would be South Sugar Street from State Road 250 to the edge of the Hoosier Christian Village property.

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With President Gregg Goshorn and Councilman Tim Robinson absent from the meeting, Councilwoman Sharon Koch recommended tabling the topic. She said the council could discuss it further during an executive session when all five members can be present.

Hauersperger said he would need to know by this week if the town wants to apply now or in July.

“I think it’s a project you want to do sometime,” he said. “We call it ‘in the can.’ If you can do the project and have it on the shelf ready in the can, that would be my recommendation at the very least. If you get the project this round, we would try to get it ready for our June or July letting. If you wait until the July round, (the contractor) would have 18 months to complete it. That’s something to think about. That might make more sense.”

Either way, Hauersperger said he would like to have the design started and put it in FPBH’s “barrel of projects” by March or April and at least get started on it.

“Our firm has a capacity issue that’s kind of immediate. We probably can’t get to this for four months. We just have too much already dedicated for the next two or three months,” he told the council.

“The good news is you can have 18 months on these projects,” he said. “If we would get this out to bid in June, they would have a full year to get the project done.”

The only information he has now is a cost estimate, which is $691,000. That, however, is on the high side, he said.

“I feel like we got lucky with Ashland Street when we did that (in 2019). We had one bidder that was quite a bit lower than the next bidder,” Hauersperger said.

“If that bidder continues to bid on your projects, this may come down a couple hundred thousand dollars. But if he doesn’t bid, if he’s too busy, we’ll need to go to that next bidder, and that’s what worries me,” he said. “I want to be on the high side of things because I want you to have the money to do the job.”

If that cost estimate holds, the town’s 25% match would be around $172,000.

“I prefer to start high and it goes down and not start low and it ends up being high,” Koch said. “It’s definitely the safer of the two ways.”

Hauersperger said the total cost also could change because pavement costs regularly fluctuate. Along with milling and paving the street, sidewalks and pipes would be new.

“Right now, you’ve got a contractor who really likes your community and bids really well, and so we just hope that he continues,” he said.

Currently, there is a sidewalk in front of a retaining wall behind CVS Pharmacy on the west side of South Sugar Street. In other areas of the street, there are portions of sidewalk, but they aren’t complete and aren’t in good shape.

“We think that’s fair to go ahead and continue it to a major roadway,” Hauersperger said of adding sidewalks on both sides of the street.

The sidewalks also have to be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act and will have to slope down at each driveway along the street. Hauersperger said that will require obtaining rights of entry and ensuring property owners understand their driveways may be moved back a little.

“I want to make sure these things don’t just have angles where people have bumped to get in and out of their driveways,” he said.

Street Superintendent Phil Owens also said there’s a natural spring that runs near a home behind CVS. He asked Hauersperger how they plan on catching water from the stream.

“It naturally flows year-round, and we’ve got to figure out how to catch that water or it’s just going to keep the sidewalk crumbling,” Owens said. “That drains year-round. It doesn’t matter if it’s raining or not.”

Hauersperger said that would be fixed the same way they handled a similar issue on Ashland Street — digging around the spring, putting in some PVC pipe and covering it up.

Owens said he agrees South Sugar Street needs work. Before Ashland Street was fixed with last year’s funding, he said that street and Sugar Street were “the pits.”

“The longer you wait, the more it’s going to eventually cost. It’s in really bad shape,” he said.

“It is the pits, and it’s probably one of the worst streets I’ve seen out there. The roadway is starting to fall apart on you pretty hard,” Hauersperger said of South Sugar Street.

“This might be one that you wait for the July call to where if you want to, you can make sure you have all of the finances and ducks in a row or you could go for something completely different with just similar projects that are overlays to complete,” he said. “There’s a lot to think about. I don’t want to force you into anything. It’s your call.”

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