Construction of another railroad overpass and the city’s first roundabout will get underway in August.
The latter will disrupt traffic with the closing of a portion of South O’Brien Street for at least two months, project officials said.
Both features are part of the Burkart South Bypass, a three-phase project to connect the east side of the city from Burkart Boulevard to Freeman Field on the west side.
When completed, the route will cost around $30 million with 20%, or around $6 million, coming from the Seymour Redevelopment Commission. The bulk of the expense is being paid for through federal transportation grants.
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The goal of the bypass is threefold: To help alleviate the amount of semi traffic driving through the city on U.S. 50, to give motorists, especially emergency vehicles, a much-needed option to get around trains coming through Seymour and to open up the southern area for future development and growth.
City engineer Bernie Hauersperger said the project is the most significant in Seymour to address traffic congestion.
"Things will really change in Seymour on truck traffic coming in and out of this area," he said. "It will also keep trucks from destroying O’Brien Street."
The city is looking to start reconstructing the O’Brien Street corridor in 2025.
Crews from Milestone Contractors of Columbus began work on Phase I of the Burkart South Bypass in the first part of April by redoing sidewalks, curbs and gutters to improve drainage and access on South Fourth Street Road from East Tipton Street (U.S. 50) south to the dead end where the new road begins.
Although it’s a major construction project, many people in the community aren’t aware of it, said David Sipes, project manager with Milestone.
"When we posted a picture of it on Facebook, all of the comments from Seymour residents were, ‘Where is this at?’" Sipes said.
At $17.23 million, the first phase will result in 2.3 miles of new road, taking Burkart Boulevard south through farm ground over the Louisville and Indiana Railroad near Silgan Plastics and connecting it to South O’Brien Street at a new roundabout.
The project has split some farms in half, but farmers still have access to their fields, Sipes said.
Construction is running about three weeks behind due to rain, said project engineer Jeff Logman with WSP.
At the end of last week, about 16% of the first phase was complete.
Most of the culvert structures, including tie-ins, drive pipes and box culverts, have been installed, and work has begun on the realignment of County Road 340N.
Aug. 3 is when Milestone is scheduled to begin construction on the bridge over the railroad.
"They’ll start drive piling, and probably several weeks after that, we’ll start putting the wall in with steel straps," Logman said. "You’ll probably see us setting beams by the end of the year."
The overpass will rise 25 feet above the railroad tracks and have concrete walls, similar to the new bridge over the railroad in Columbus.
"It’s going to be a real visual for the city," Hauersperger said.
Around Aug. 10, O’Brien Street will be closed for Milestone to begin construction of the roundabout.
Besides the new road, railroad overpass and roundabout, a 12-foot-wide multipurpose trail along the entire length of the new road is part of the project, giving people a way to walk or ride a bicycle to reach their destination.
The trail is part of Seymour’s ongoing efforts to connect areas through a network of trails promoting exercise and alternate means of transportation. The city also is funding a $1 million trail along U.S. 50 from Agrico Lane east to U.S. 31 as part of the state’s ongoing work to reconstruct the highway.
Most of Phase I is expected to be finished by the end of October 2021. Milestone has until the beginning of June 2022 to complete the whole project.
"This is a two-year project to get this bridge built because of the settlement issues," Hauersperger said. "They’re going to have not quite 20,000 tons of asphalt on this."
Logman expects to be able to start paving on the north end of the new road by the end of this year.
"We’ll go as far as we can, almost a mile worth of pavement this year," he said.
At that time, none of the road will be open to the public, but pavement will allow construction crews to better access the worksite.
The second phase of the bypass, which will go out to bid in November, will extend the new road west to South Walnut Street (State Road 11), where another roundabout is planned, and then through Freeman Field Industrial Park to Airport Road, where a third roundabout will be constructed at the intersection with G Avenue.
That work will get started in 2021.
Phase III is reconstruction of Airport Road from West U.S. 50 to G Avenue. Dave O’Mara Contractor of North Vernon started work on the $1.8 million project in May.
Work on Phase III also has been delayed due to weather, drainage and pavement issues, Hauersperger said, but is under contract to be completed in September.