Airport Road to close for four-month stretch


A stretch of Airport Road that takes high volumes of traffic, including semis, into and out of Freeman Field Industrial Park on Seymour’s west side will be closing for four months.

Workers are already in the area relocating utility lines ahead of the closure, which will begin in April.

The road is slated for full-pavement reconstruction as part of Phase III of the Burkart Boulevard South Bypass project. Phase III was bid last November and awarded to Dave O’Mara Contractor Inc. in North Vernon for the lowest bid of $1.8 million.

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Airport Road will be widened and strengthened from U.S. 50 south to G Avenue to accommodate the increased semi traffic from the future bypass route. When complete, the bypass will connect the east side of the city from Burkart Boulevard to Freeman Field and alleviate traffic on U.S. 50.

A bicycle and pedestrian path also is part of the plans and will be added on the east side of the roadway.

The project is being funded through a bond issued in the fall of 2019 by the Seymour Redevelopment Commission.

Phase I of the bypass also is set to begin in April. That phase will include the construction of the new bypass connecting Burkart Boulevard to South O’Brien Street and a railroad overpass. Phase II, which will take Burkart from South O’Brien Street west to South Walnut Street and then continue on to Airport Road, won’t get started until 2021.

All three phases are costing about $20 million total, most of which is being paid for through federal transportation grants.

Seymour’s match is coming from tax increment finance, or TIF, districts. Those districts capture incremental increases in property taxes from industries within the districts. That money is then available to make improvements in TIF districts and adjacent and connecting areas.

By closing Airport Road, traffic from industries in the area, including Valeo and Lannett, will be funneled to Freeman Field’s only other entrance on South Walnut Street.

That traffic coupled with school traffic from Seymour-Jackson Elementary School will lead to heavy congestion in the mornings when kids are going to school and at the end of the school day.

“This project will cause many people to be detoured to the Walnut Street entrance,” said city engineer Bernie Hauersperger with FPBH Inc. “We expect traffic issues at Walnut and B Avenue.”

Detour signage will be put in place closer to the time Airport Road is closed, and Seymour police likely will have to direct traffic at certain times of the day, he added.

“We will also watch Walnut Street for any issues north to U.S. 50,” he said. “We know this is not going to be a pleasant experience for people.”

Another closure expected to cause headaches will be during Phase I on South O’Brien Street near County Road 340N next to Silgan Plastics for the construction of a roundabout.

“Overall, Seymour is in a boom of construction this summer and the next,” Hauersperger said. “With the Community Crossings Matching Grant expected to be funded and major streets like Laurel, Second and Chestnut on our 2020 list, we are going to see lots of other road closures.”

Tipton Street, or U.S. 50, from Agrico Lane to U.S. 31 also will be under construction beginning this year, and State Road 258 is going to be resurfaced.

Hauersperger advises people to avoid areas during construction and for those who can’t to adjust their plans for delays.

“I suggest that everyone start thinking of adding 10 minutes of extra travel time to their schedules and to try to understand that we are trying to do the best we can with all that is going on,” he said.

All of the construction is a sign of the city’s growth and progress, he added.

“As we all like to complain about being delayed, I suggest that we all expect the delays without complaining and just look at how Seymour is starting the new decade with some great improvements,” he said. “I am excited to see such improvements finally being made in Seymour.”

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