Airport Road project delayed


A construction project that will close Airport Road for four months and has caused public concerns about traffic backups in the Freeman Field Industrial Park has been delayed by a couple of weeks.

Those involved with the project also have come up with a new plan to leave one lane of the road open, allowing northbound traffic to continue through the construction zone to U.S. 50.

Dave O’Mara Contractor Inc. of North Vernon is now planning to get started on the first phase of the $1.8 million project on or after April 13. Work was originally set to begin Wednesday.

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The delay is due to Vectren needing time to relocate its natural gas utility line that is in the area of construction, said Jon Wick, project manager.

Other utility lines already have been moved.

“It is anticipated that they (Vectren) have approximately two to three weeks left of work,” Wick said.

Construction could be pushed back further by Vectren, severe weather or the impact of COVID-19, he added.

Since Gov. Eric Holcomb required schools and nonessential businesses to close and ordered Hoosiers to stay at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, traffic in the area has been considerably reduced.

The first phase of the project will include the installation of three new box culverts along the route — one at Colonial Drive, another at the old bowling alley and the third at Seymour Precision Machining. During this stage, two-way traffic will be maintained with the use of flaggers, Wick said.

Phase II will consist of reconstruction of the west half of Airport Road from G Avenue to Kimberly Avenue. The northbound lane will remain open for one-way traffic to go north to U.S. 50.

Flaggers will be used to help get construction traffic carrying materials in and out of the worksite, and southbound traffic will be permitted to go as far south as Farm Bureau Insurance, giving the public continued access to The Peoples Bank and Huck’s Market from Airport Road.

Wick said there were discussions on installing a signalized traffic light that would reverse every 5 to 7 minutes to allow traffic to continue both ways, but that idea was rejected due to safety concerns.

“This was determined to cause about as much delay in southbound traffic as driving around the State Road 11 detour route and is considered a safety issue with the potential for head-on traffic collisions,” Wick said. “This was determined to be an unsatisfactory solution.”

After the west half is completed, reconstruction — Phase III — will then shift to the east half of the road, and work will begin on a bicycle and pedestrian path on that side. Northbound traffic will continue to flow in the newly reconstructed southbound lane.

A weekend closure of the entire road will be required during this phase to install cross pipes, Wick said.

Phase IV will include asphalt milling of the tie-in roads on the north and south ends of the project, at which time the new road will reopen to two-way traffic. Flaggers will be used during milling operations.

The final phase will be to place surface, pavement markings, signs and signal loops on the entire project route, Wick said. That work will not require the road to be closed again.

When complete, Airport Road will be widened and strengthened from U.S. 50 south to G Avenue to accommodate the increased semi traffic from the future Burkart Boulevard South 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.

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.

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