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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Officials not happy with choice of road either

Friday, April 30, 2010

Paul Sinders
Residents have been grumbling recently about the work being done on County Road 200 East (Harmony Road).

But, county officials aren't too happy themselves with the reasons why the road was chosen for the repaving.

The repaving on Harmony Road is being paid for by funds made available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Stimulus), but there restrictions on which roads qualify.

"When the Stimulus was passed, we met with County Highway Superintendent Pete Foster to determine what were the worst roads in the county that needed work," Clay County Commissioner Paul Sinders said. "However, all the roads we came up with were rejected because they did not meet the Indiana Department of Transportation's (INDOT) requirement of being classified as a Major Connector or Minor Arterial."

Upon review of roads in the county which did qualify for Stimulus funds, it was found that only two county roads met the requirements set by INDOT's Local Pavement Preventative Maintenance Project Criteria.

On July 29, 2009, the project award for resurfacing on Bowling Green-Poland Road was given to Dave O'Mara Contractor, Inc., North Vernon, Ind., which bid 582,727.10. The work to repave Harmony Road, from Ohio Street in Center Point to Jackson Street in Harmony, was awarded to Wabash Valley Asphalt Company, LLC, Terre Haute, which provided the lowest bid at $734,382.98.

"Harmony Road was already one of the best in the county and really didn't need work done on it compared with other county roads," Clay County Council President Mike McCullough told The Brazil Times. "The commissioners were the ones who had to apply for it, but they weren't even able to choose the contractor."

After the applications were submitted, control was completely taken out of the hands of county officials.

"The funding itself doesn't even come to the county," Sinders said. "The money distributed out of the Stimulus on these projects are administered by INDOT only."

Sinders was also frustrated with the portion of Harmony Road that was chosen for the work.

Charlie Brown
"We requested that all of Harmony Road be considered, all the way down to State Road 157," he said. "I don't understand, nor have I received an explanation as to why the portion of the road south of Center Point was not accepted as part of the project."

County officials also felt the funding would be better served if it could be administered on the local level.

"We are real passionate to the concerns about the roads, but we had no control over this issue," Commissioners' President Charlie Brown said. "There is a better understanding about what work needs to be done on the local level, and we know which roads need to be worked on the most."

Mike McCullough
McCullough added, "If the federal government has three-quarters of a million dollars available to use on roads, they need to give it to county commissioners and let them decide what roads are the priority. I have already expressed my displeasure about the Stimulus restrictions to Congressman Brad Ellsworth on numerous occasions."

Despite the will to fix other roads, Sinders acknowledged the need to take what they could get.

"I can't argue with the complaints of the residents because we feel the same way," he told The Brazil Times. "But, we spent $10,000 on engineering and got about $1.4 million out of our investment to repave these two roads, which is a pretty good return."

Sinders added commissioners in other counties have also expressed frustration about having no control over what the funding goes for, but recognized sometimes they have to just take what they can get.

"It will be a benefit down the line because hopefully we won't need to work on those roads for quite a while, but if we didn't put in for this funding, it was going to be spent somewhere else," Sinders said. "We are taxpayers as well, and while we want other roads to be fixed, when you have to say in the matter, you just have to play the game and get what you can."

Jack Withers
However, it does not make things any easier for county officials when responsibility is taken away from them.

"If we aren't allowed a choice or a say in something regarding our own county, then why do they have us in this position," Commissioner Jack Withers said.

What roads qualify?

According to Indiana Department of Transportation's Local Pavement Preventative Maintenance Project Criteria for The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Stimulus), there are specific program eligibility requirements that must be met in order for a repaving project to be submitted for consideration. One of the requirements specifies that a particular road must be on the Federal-Aid Highway System, and be classified as a Major Rural Collector or higher (Rural Interstate, Rural Principal Arterial and Rural Minor Arterial).

The following is a list of roads in Clay County that fall within this requirement, along with its classification:

* Interstate-70 -- Rural Interstate,

* State Road 59 (north of County Road 1100 North and south of County Road 800 North) -- Rural Minor Arterial,

* State Road 46 (east of SR 59) -- Rural Minor Arterial,

* United States 40 (east of Harmony, and between CR 550 W and 700 W) -- Rural Major Collector,

* State Road 340 (between CR 550 W and 700 W) -- Rural Major Collector,

* State Road 46 (west of SR 59) -- Rural Major Collector,

* State Road 42 -- Rural Major Collector,

* State Road 157 -- Rural Major Collector

* State Road 246 -- Rural Major Collector,

* Bowling Green-Poland Road -- Rural Major Collector, and

* County Road 200 East aka Harmony Road (south of CR 900 N, excluding between CR 700 S and 800 S, ending at State Road 157) -- Rural Major Collector.

Some roads change classifications depending on the area it flows through. For example, State Road 59 is primarily classified as a Rural Minor Arterial, but between County Roads 800 North and 1100 North, the classification changes to Urban Principal Arterial, which is not eligible for Stimulus funding.

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I happened to drive the repaved portions of Harmony and the Bowling Green-Poland Roads last night. As of now, they are probably the best roads in the county and that would be including I-70 as the joints in that highway is getting to the point where a person benefits from knowing where to dodge the holes. I'm beginning to wonder if the road condition might have some bearing on the number of accidents that have occured on I-70 lately.

It is a shame that this funding was not under local control as to where to apply it to best stimulate the LOCAL economy by repairing the roads that local citizens use and that needed repair more than the ones that the state allowed.

Of course, perhaps the State was operating on the idea that if only the already good roads could be worked on with this money, then the bad roads that there isn't enough money in the county budget to repair will continue to destroy people's vehicles and continue to stimulate the automobile repair industry, replacement parts manufacturing, and the automobile manufacturing industry. One thing for sure, driving down some of our roads will tell you if you should be thinking about replacing shocks or struts.

The State might also be thinking of our safety. They may well think that our speed limits are set too high on our county roads. Some of the potholes have developed into "speed traps", which are exactly the opposite of a speed bump. Instead of applying asphalt to make a bump of 6 - 8 inches, allow a pothole to get that deep. The effect is the same, you will slow down. I was going to the junction of IN 59 and I-70 the other night and detoured around an accident. I went west one blacktop road and then south. Wow! That was a real eye-opener. I drive full-sized Dodges, a pick-up and a Durango. I don't remember which I was driving that night, but I crept down that road as 25 - 30 MPH was too fast to keep control. Had I been driving something smaller or without as much ground clearance, I might still be stuck there in an Indiana speed trap, aka pothole.

Our commissioners are doing what they can. Thanks to them for what they get done.

-- Posted by Leo L. Southworth on Sat, May 1, 2010, at 7:23 AM

I see that Leo L. Southworth forgot to mention his credentials as a traffic engineer. Leo L. Southworth, "the expert on everything"

-- Posted by I. M. Lee Thall, Esq. on Sat, May 1, 2010, at 10:28 AM

Leo is not a traffic engineer he ia an doo doo stirrer......The one thing he said i do agree with is thank you to Mike, Charlie, Paul and Jack for getin while the gettin was good. Keep up the good work!!

-- Posted by jddriver4960 on Sat, May 1, 2010, at 10:51 AM

Well jddriver, he is an expert on everything, just ask him.

-- Posted by I. M. Lee Thall, Esq. on Sat, May 1, 2010, at 2:51 PM

What a waste of money Pinkley street surely qualified as a minor collector, I know for a fact it collects hub caps !

-- Posted by Ombudsman on Sat, May 1, 2010, at 8:30 PM

It's a quick lesson in government. The preferred order for control or decision making should ever be: individual, local, state and then federal government as an absolute last resort, save National Defense.

-- Posted by brazilian on Sat, May 1, 2010, at 8:49 PM

Lee Thall, jddriver:

Have no idea from where your comments come?? When has a "thinking out loud" comment that tries to justify or give credence, even if tongue in cheek, deserve such nasty remarks?

I am no engineer either but do drive these country roads on a daily basis and pot holes have reduced the speed limits, caused people to zig zag like drunken drivers, and/or take alternate routes due to their sad state of disrepair. It doesn't take an engineer to recognize nor to quickly realize the results of their condition on several levels...including their being quite evident when a realtor takes a potential home buyer down one to reach a home for sale.

The county governments have increasingly had their hands bound tighter and tighter, maybe some of it legitimately due to past mismanagement in some locations, but these restrictions in decision making locally is not the answer. That is quite obvious.

When either of you has a better solution than putting down someone else's thoughts on the matter, you are really not helping the discussion other than discrediting your future comments. don't you realize this? At times both of you have contributed to these comment sections with good ideas but these personal attacks don't help validate your other opinions, no matter how valid.

Maybe our community would be so stuck in the past if more people would be brave enough to think differently than the "old guard" here and stick their neck out a bit to a new idea now and again? If you really think that bringing new ideas to the table to discuss is a "doo doo stirrer" that is really sad.

Have a good day. Go take a Sunday Drive on the back roads the school buses drive everyday. You just may see what Leo's talking about... and then you too can be an "engineer" [lol].

-- Posted by Jenny Moore on Sun, May 2, 2010, at 10:37 AM

I guess you can't accuse me of being a computer engineer at least since I posted this response twice [lol]

-- Posted by Jenny Moore on Sun, May 2, 2010, at 10:39 AM

Don't worry Jenny, we won't. No more than Leo L Southworth is a traffic engineer.

-- Posted by I. M. Lee Thall, Esq. on Sun, May 2, 2010, at 11:51 AM

I was wondering who is going to pay for the damages to our cars. The commissioners should have to drive down 1350 norht and 1400 norht as well as many other roads in the county everyday like some of the other tax paying citzens do. With taxes going up and wages going down, and the poor quality of roads to drive on how are we supposed to fix our cars.

-- Posted by tea partier on Sun, May 2, 2010, at 10:38 PM

To I. M. Lee Thall, Esq.: At least Leo Southworth has the guts to use his real name and not hide behind some made up title. Your sarcasm is getting old!

-- Posted by Hodgepodge on Mon, May 3, 2010, at 5:26 PM


Actually not everyone's taxes have gone up.... Property tax revenue has been cut by about 40% if my own are any measure. In a society where health, food, fuel, etc etc have all gone up, so have the costs to maintain our highways....It didn't make sense to lower property taxes when it costs more now to maintain our community. But that is what our state reps did. So county reps had no choice but to raise income taxes...Now with the unemployment, that revenue has to now come from fewer people who are working for a living as it isn't coming from others who aren't making money but still living here, enjoying our community.

Can't even begin to figure it out what government in Indy is thinking....

-- Posted by Jenny Moore on Mon, May 3, 2010, at 5:36 PM

Jenny I agree with you as far as the lower revenues coming in to local goverment, but I pay my fair share and would love to be able to drive our county roads with out fear of destroying my vehicle, and our constitution says your dollar should only be taxed once, so explain income tax, property tax, excise tax, social security tax,sales tax, and so on. I just want to see all of these taxes put to good use instead of government waste i.e. harmony road etc.

-- Posted by tea partier on Tue, May 4, 2010, at 12:10 AM

Good lord, people .. one doesn't have to have "traffic engineer" credentials to post an opinion! (thank goodness, too .. because I'm about to)

I think it's sad when we're given a stimulus to be applied to roads in disrepair .. and then we're forced to (1) use the funds on a road that doesn't need repair, and (2) use someone outside the city as contractor.

BTW - I'm not a fan of every post Leo makes or anyone else for that matter .. but I can be objective (instead of knee-jerk) when reading all posts and made my determination to agree or disagree AFTER reading .. instead of before.

-- Posted by Emmes on Wed, May 5, 2010, at 11:52 AM

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