Burkart bypass open for traffic


Thanks to the opening of the second of three parts of a bypass around the south side of Seymour, motorists may find themselves less likely to be caught in a traffic jam created by one of the many trains that move through the city daily.

The first phase of the Burkart Boulevard South Bypass is finished and was open for traffic Monday. A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held that same morning to celebrate the completion of the $17.23 million project.

That phase, which involves 2.3 miles of new road, takes motorists south along Burkart Boulevard through farm ground and over the Louisville and Indiana Railroad near Silgan Plastics before connecting to O’Brien Street at a roundabout.

Seymour Mayor Matt Nicholson, Corey Baugh, a vice president and area manager for Milestone Contractors in Columbus, and former Seymour mayor Craig Luedeman, who now works for HWC Engineering, all spoke during the ceremony.

During Luedeman’s time as mayor, he was able to secure the federal, state and local funding for Milestone Contractors to complete the project. Construction got underway in April 2020 under Nicholson’s leadership.

“Today, as we stand here above the Louisville and Indiana Railroad, we are celebrating another of many steps forward that we have taken to poise the southeastern and southern areas of Seymour for growth,” Nicholson said. The railroad, which runs north and south, runs through the heart of the downtown area, and trains have been creating issues for motorists for decades.”

Nicholson also took the time to thank property owners in the area of the bypass.

“Change is never easy, but as I was reminded yesterday, it will be worth it in the long run,” Nicholson said. “The properties can continue to be used for their current use as long as the owners wish, but in the event they choose to sell, it can change use.”

Property owners who wanted their land to remain as farm ground were reassured by Nicholson that it will remain that way unless they change their mind.

“I could see the undeveloped 200 feet along the roadway becoming commercial like the first section just north of Highway 50,” he said. “Behind that is room for much-needed housing. Again, though, nothing has to change until property owners are ready to sell. It can remain farm ground as long as someone chooses to keep farming it.”

The next phase of the project connects the new bypass from the roundabout on South O’Brien Street west to Airport Road. Utilities are being relocated along that route, and Nicholson said construction will start soon.

“As spring 2022 rolls in, we will see major work start to happen, and it should create more chances for companies to expand or relocate to Freeman Field,” Nicholson said.

In the fall of 2020, the third phase of this project was completed. It saw the reconstruction of Airport Road where the bypass connects to U.S. 50 on the far west side of the city.

Baugh thanked many people who had a hand in making the project come to life.

“All projects have their challenges, but this group addressed them head-on to provide a road and bridge that are built to last,” he said about the project’s various operational leaders.

More than 45,000 tons of mix and 87,000-square-feet of mechanically stabilized earth were used to create the bypass, Baugh said.

“The project came in under budget and on time,” he said. “Thank you again to the entire team for a job well done.”

On Sunday, around 100 people participated in a walk and bike ride on the bypass to enjoy before it was used for traffic.

Milestone Contractors sponsored the Sunday event and distributed free candy, while Fraternal Order of Police Donald M. Winn Lodge 108 grilled hot dogs, and Laura Jo’s Cookies for Kids provided free treats.

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