By Mike Grant Times Herald
The Washington Times-Herald
---- — After a couple of years of working on piece-meal solutions for the expansion of the Odon-Cannelburg Road county officials are now looking at the prospect of moving it along more quickly. The Daviess County Commissioners will be applying for a $12.3 million federal grant that would provide the money to do the last two segments of work on the road.
“It used to be that the money was broken down into smaller groups and the funding was capped at $3 million,” said Judy Thomann with B.L.A. Engineering. “Now it is going into one big pot, and I think you are an excellent candidate with a good chance to get it.”
Daviess County has been working on a long range safety project along CR 900E. The road is being widened to better accomodate the heavy truck traffic, plus add buggy lanes to separate the traffic. The road runs through the heart of the Amish country in eastern Daviess County and has almost 100 businesses within one mile of it.
“The state is giving us an opportunity to go ahead and get this done,” said President of the Daviess County Commissioners Tony Wichman. “This would be really important for the residents along that road for us to get it done and over with and get out of their way.”
Currently the county has enough funding to expand the Odon-Cannelburg Road up to CR 800N. “If we receive the full funding that would put us in a position to complete the project all the way to CR 1250N at the park at Odon,” said County Highway Superintendent Phil Cornelius.
The county’s application is now being prepared and state officials are expected to make announcements on the funding before the end of the year. “I think it’s a good deal,” said Commissioner Michael Taylor. “What we have heard back from the public hearings is that people want to see this get done.”
If the county is approved the funding would show up in 2017. The county would also have to come up with $2.4 million in matching funds, but officials say that should not be an issue. “We have identified potential sources for the matching funds,” said Cornelius. “The highway department has some money set aside. We have additional road dollars coming from the state, and the county council has been pretty frugal and that will make this possible. We are absolutely in a position to cover the match and move forward.”
“We have been planning for this, so we have a good idea where we can get that matching money,” added Wichman.
There are no guarantees the state will fully fund the final sections of the CR 900E project. “Even if they give partial funding this time, you will still be able to go back and apply for 2018 funding,” said Thoman.
The chance to speed up the project though is one Daviess County officials want to pursue. “Given the safety issues out there it would really be better for us to get this done,” said Wichman.
“One big project to finish this is better for the area,” added Cornelius. “It will put the finished road into service quicker. It will help us deal with the big safety issues there, and the cost is favorable. “We know it would be better to finish the road sooner rather than later.”
Meanwhile, work on the sections up to CR 800N are moving forward. Some parts of the road are closed completely while crews work on cutting down some hills. The county Highway Department has posted detours for local traffic along the road. “This project is full of growing pains,” said Cornelius. “I think people in that area would be happy to see the time for it shortened.”