With the status of stimulus funding still a question mark, officials are looking at ways to improve Clay County's transportation system.
On Monday, representatives from the West Central Indiana Economic Development District (WCIEDD), Terre Haute, conducted a meeting to gather public input regarding the status of roads in Clay County.
"This is just the beginnings of a 20-year thoroughfare plan for the year 2030," WCIEDD Transportation Planner Jackie Mitchell said. "By gaining input from the public, it will aid with the planning for the area and county."
Mitchell outlined the five goals of the plan, which are:
* Maximize mobility within the network,
* Maximize safety,
* Provide a means by which future land use patterns can be gauged,
* Provide a basis by which decisions can be made on changes, improvements or additions to the current transportation network, and
* Project future needs of the network.
She added traffic counts have already been conducted in 64 different areas and WCIEDD is starting to map out the levels of service needed.
In order to qualify for stimulus or federal funding, roads must fall within a specific classification.
Currently, Interstate-70 is classified as a Rural Principal Arterial, United States 40 and State Road 59 are Urban Principal Arterials, 14 sections are labeled as Urban Minor Arterials, 19 are Urban Collectors, eight are Rural Major Collectors and 29 other areas are classified as Rural Minor Collectors.
"Having a road listed in the functional classification helps determine its eligibility for potential federal and/or stimulus funding in the future," Mitchell said. "Also, by conducting traffic counts, we may be able to add roads to the classification as either an arterial or collector."
Professional Engineer for Hannum, Wagle and Cline Engineering, Inc./City of Brazil Engineer Brian Pohlar said when a road is given a classification, it is also given a rating in which an "A" means it is in good shape, whereas an "F" means the road is in need of a lot of service.
During the meeting, Pohlar, Brazil Planning Administrator Stacy Gibbens, City Council member Bill Lovett, and Clay County Commissioners Charlie Brown, Paul Sinders and Jack Withers reviewed the current classifications and identified other roads that could be looked at.
Lovett and Gibbens suggested taking a look at Jackson Street, from Vandalia Street to US 40, in Brazil, as they believed it will be a main detour for traffic when the United States 40 Project begins, and it was not on the current list.
"Another place to look at is the State Road 42/Cory-Staunton Road area," Pohlar added. "It is a bad intersection to begin with, but traffic is also building with industries moving into the area."
WCIEDD Transportation Planner Daniel Wegner said they also have access to crash data from the Indiana State Police, which is used as factor when determining the level of service needed for an area, but will not be included in the thoroughfare plan because the amount of crashes can fluctuate.
"This is just a matter of gathering information as a reference for the next 20 years," Mitchell said. "Plus, it also shows the state we have something concrete on paper that we want to look at, and it holds more weight when funding becomes available."
Mitchell added the plan will not only determine the level of service need for roads, but also identify areas for potential future development and other issues regarding the county's transportation system.
A second meeting has been set for 1 p.m., Thursday, June 18, in the Commissioners' Courtroom of the Clay County Courthouse to initiate the start of a 10-day public comment period. The public is welcome to attend the meeting to provide additional suggestions of other problem areas to look at and potential solutions.