Continuing a discussion begun at a prior meeting, the Daviess County Commissioners on Monday decided to table a request from Indiana Southern Railroad to close two county roads in the Plainville area.
At the Aug. 27 meeting, representatives from the railroad and Boyd Grain asked the commissioners to consider closing crossings at both CR 900N and Division Line Road so the railroad could construct an 8,200-foot-long rail siding. According to the representatives at the August meeting, the siding would provide economic benefits to Boyd Grain and other area businesses.
Explaining the commissioners’ reasoning for tabling the matter, board President Tony Wichman said: “We need to wait until we have more information and some clarification on whether is has to be exactly 8,200 feet that goes past the 900N closing. The Division Line Road is a concern, but I think we can deal with it. But I don’t think we can deal with the 900N crossing being closed. I would like to see 900N accessible at all times.”
Traffic studies conducted in the area revealed as many as 300 vehicles a day use the crossing on 900N. In addition to the effect on area residents, Wichman was concerned with the impact on emergency vehicles and suggested the resultant rerouting could add as much as 10 to 5 minutes to emergency response time.
Plainville area resident John Divine, whose farm is situated on both Division Line Road and CR 900N, appeared at the meeting and stated he too would like to have more information about the railroad’s plans.
Speaking on behalf of both Divine farms and Wade Farms, Divine said: “We weren’t really informed about the original meeting, so we knew nothing about it. I’m in favor of economic development, but since our farm would be impacted in two different directions we would really like to know more about exactly what the railroad needs.”
Divine has some concern that Indiana Southern might be overstating their need in order to qualify for a federal grant, and based on his experience as a former federal government employee feels the railroad might be able to seek certain waivers and still qualify for the grant. Divine also pointed out to the commissioners that a rail siding currently exists on the property but has been abandoned for many years, and he would like to know if that existing siding is sufficient for the railroad’s needs.
“We need some more details,” Divine said and concluded while gesturing around the room, “but nobody’s here from the railroad.”
Following Divine’s remarks, Commissioners Michael Taylor and Larry Wilson both agreed with Wichman that more information was needed and expressed some concern that no one from Indiana Southern Railroad was present at Monday’s meeting to answer questions. No decision will be made on the railroad’s original request until the board has gathered additional information not only from the railroad but from other area residents and businesses.
Under highway business, Superintendent Phil Cornelius, informed the board about a jurisdictional issue that surfaced recently. Cornelius said he was approached by a Montgomery resident about clearing some brush and while acting on the request he came across a 1978 agreement that stated as long as there was a landfill at its current location, the county would pay 100 percent of the cost to maintain CR 650E, also known as First Street in Montgomery. Further research by Cornelius revealed Montgomery has been receiving state money for street improvements but because of the 1978 agreement, has not applied any of that money toward maintenance of First Street.
“The town still has jurisdiction for the street and is receiving money from the state to maintain it, but they use that money for other projects because of the existence of the 1978 agreement,” Cornelius said.
In Cornelius’ opinion, 100-percent maintenance by the county is no longer justified.
“There’s a lot more things going on in the town of Montgomery that indicate the percent might need to be adjusted and the agreement should be updated,” he said.
Commissioner Larry Wilson suggested the town, the county, and the solid waste district try to work together to come up with an acceptable solution. Wichman and Taylor agreed, and a decision was made to invite the Montgomery Town Board to the next commissioners meeting along with a representative from the solid waste district.
Cornelius told the board he would work to coordinate the joint meeting and concluded, “Hopefully we can come to an agreement that is more indicative of the traffic we have there today.”
Cornelius gave a brief update on the Cannelburg Road project, telling the commissioners 16 of the 26 parcels required for completion of the right of way have been acquired and that 96 percent of the survey work has been performed. He also presented a claim for $33,346.21 for environmental work, 80 percent of which will be reimbursed by INDOT. The board approved the claim.
Lastly, Cornelius told the board INDOT’s target date for opening I-69 is still Nov. 19 and went to say all county roads previously closed for I-69 construction will be open by Oct. 31.