The winter weather appears to have put the brakes on the county’s effort to improve the Odon-Cannelburg Road (CR 900E) but there is still plenty going on behind the scenes. County officials had hoped to get the pavement down on the section extending from 450N to 550N this fall, but that work is now on hold.
“The cold and snowy weather just put a stop to it for now,” said Daviess County Highway Superintendent Phil Cornelius. “We will have some work done this winter on some of the drainage structures but the paving won’t resume until spring.”
In the meantime, the part of the road under construction will be open to local traffic and county officials are moving mountains of paper toward getting the rest of the road re-built. “We put in an application with INDOT on Friday for federal funding to get the entire project finished,” said Cornelius.
The county had already secured funding to get the road expanded to CR 800N. Officials had been planning to do the rest in phases, but this fall were told the state was changing the way it funded projects and that there was a chance to get the entire funding for the $11.6 million project. “We will just have to wait to find out whether that is approved,” said Cornelius. “We should get word on that in January.”
Another focus on the road will be the next phase of construction between CR 550N and 800N. The county council has approved $805,000 to purchase land for the right of way. “Because of the area it is in the price for the land is a lot higher than other parts of the county,” said Cornelius. “We will be purchasing a total of 12.9 acres of land along about two and one-quarter miles of road. Because that land is in the Amish area it just sells for a lot more. We have appraisers that go over comparable land sales in the area. Land in that area probably sells for 35 to 40 percent more than it would in other parts of the county.”
The project will expand the right of way from 30 to 50 feet. It will take the narrow road that slow moving buggies share with regular vehicles and semi’s and make it wider to include specific buggy lanes and shoulders in hopes of making it safer. Officials point out they just aren’t purchasing dirt. “In a lot of places along the road we have perpetual easements, but the state requires we purchase actual right of way,” said Cornelius. “We also have to pay for any improvements along that right of way, so if someone has put up a fence there, we have to pay extra for it. It includes temporary right of way and some fees. There is also the title work and deed changes we have to pay for.”
While the county is putting up all of the money for the initial land purchases it won’t be footing the entire bill.
“Once we document the right of way purchase, then the federal government will be paying us back 80 percent,” said Cornelius.
The plan is to wrap up the land purchases by the end of March.
“That should allow the utilities to get in on that section and start relocating them,” said Cornelius.
“It should go to bid in December of next year and we’ll be moving dirt on the project in spring of 2015.”