By ANDY MCCAMMON
Clay County is expected to receive $39,005,137 in road improvements thanks to Gov. Mitch Daniels' Major Moves program. The state is expected to receive $11.8 billion between now and 2015 through the program.
The final draft of the plan, unveiled last week by Gov. Mitch Daniels and Tom Sharp, commissioner of the Indiana Department of Transportation, exceeds the scope of earlier versions by 50 additional improvements, most aimed at preserving the interstate highway system in Indiana. The plan features seven Clay County projects, including "Major Preservation" initiatives to benefit S.R. 59 and U.S. 40.
The real question is: Will the program survive court challenges? See story, "Daniels touts toll road lease."
The cost of the two "Major Preservation" projects, both slated to begin several years down the road, totals $34,698,778 -- nearly 90 percent of planned for expenditure in Clay County. The other five projects are resurfacing initiatives scheduled for May of 2006--only one of which was underway at press time, according to Clay County Highway Supervisor Pete Foster.
The resurfacing of S.R. 59 from S.R. 246 to S.R. 157 has already begun, Foster said. The other four resurfacing initiatives itemized in Major Moves, which will affect U.S. 40, U.S. 36 and state roads 246 and 340, are scheduled for this month but may be delayed, Foster said.
"They've put them on hold. There's really no definite date," he said.
Foster will meet with INDOT officials June 17, during which he expects to receive an updated Major Moves schedule.
The preservation project targeting S.R. 59--at a total expense of $2,800,599--is expected to begin in 2009. But the centerpiece of the Major Moves improvements scheduled in Clay County is the restoration of three miles of U.S. 40, all of which lies within the corporate limits of Brazil. At $31,898,179, the U.S. 40 project alone constitutes more than three-quarters of all Major Moves expenditures in the county.
In a release issued along with the final draft, Sharp praised "the first completely funded 10-year plan in our agency's history. The staggering price tag attached to Major Moves will largely be paid for by the lease of the Indiana Toll Road (I-80) to a foreign consortium.