AVON — The Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT), which maintains State Road 267, is now looking to relinquish the rights to local government jurisdictions south of U.S. 36 and north of I-70 Ñ including Avon, Plainfield, and Hendricks County.
”We had had discussions before about how we asked to receive some money from them for maintenance over a 10-year plan,” Avon Town Manager Tom Klein said. “It would be about $12,000 a year per center line mile for maintenance.”
Klein said the proposal came back for one year and about $6,000 per lane mile for maintenance. The INDOT proposal also includes several projects that were discussed differently in the past, he said.
”When we had went before, they had said that the roundabout at (County Road) 150 South, the roundabout at 300 South, and the bridge would still go forward as part of the relinquishment deal,” Klein said. “This time, they came back and said that the roundabout at (C.R.) 150 South would be removed and not go forward as part of the deal. The (C.R.) 300 South roundabout would stay in and the bridge would stay in. They pretty much told us that there is no funding for the bridge and that this was the only way that it could be funded, was to relinquish the road back to the local jurisdictions.”
The bridge would be tentatively scheduled for 2018, he said, but as part of the deal, they could try to move it up. The total construction cost for the bridge would be about $8.1 million. Right of way is expected to cost about $1 million more, with an additional $700,000 in utilities.
Klein said they have an executive committee who they submit internal analysis to and they look to receive a certain rate of return for relinquishments. With the bridge and both roundabouts, it doesn’t reach the total of what they were looking for, he said.
INDOT is expecting a counter-proposal for their executive committee within a week, Klein said.
”They have indicated that there are other communities who want to go through this relinquishment and that we should respond quickly or other relinquishments might happen and this one might not,” Klein said.
Town council president Mike Rogers expressed displeasure that the project has been pushed back to 2018.
”I made it very clear that the people of this community would not be happy,” Rogers said. “We have already contributed to the RDC to get the Ronald Reagan done, and we’re sitting here waiting now. We’ve been waiting patiently as years have gone by. We’ve been on the list, taken off of the list, it’s on the list, it’s taken off, and now it’s pushed back.”
Rogers pointed out the economic development that would be created in Avon, Brownsburg, and Plainfield -- towns that S.R. 267 runs through. However, he said, the risk of not finding an agreement could leave the town totally locked out for the bridge.
Dave Jackson, a town council member, floated a theory that INDOT is leveraging the bridge as part of the discussions.
”My sense is that this is a negotiation and they know that we want that bridge,” he said. “They’re leveraging that desire to get the best deal that they can. They’ve stripped things away, said 2018, and all of that, so that we would come back saying that we would really like that bridge.”
Rather than asking for everything in return, he suggested the town make a reasonable counter offer, while still getting what is important.
Rogers said that if it were not for the bridge, it would be a “done deal,” and that he thinks they could do the roundabout at a later date.
In addition, Rogers said that state statute calls for the railroad to participate in the funding as well, which could provide an option.
Klein said the project is now being designed for four tracks, rather than just the two presently there. He said that did create a slight hold up in the design process.
Hendricks County Engineer John Ayers said the county is still mulling over the offer and is looking to make a counter proposal as well.
Ayers said they would like to take over control of the roadway, but the gas tax that they currently receive is not enough to cover road maintenance in the county as it is. Taking on more mileage, he said, would further deplete those funds.
”We’re not opposed to working with INDOT, but we don’t want to get our local agencies farther behind,” he said.
In addition to the hold-up on the CSX bridge in Avon, Ayers said they’re also faced with another issue of capacity on S.R. 267, south of U.S. 40.
”We’re also restricted on expansion options because of the high cost of right of way,” he said. “Now this would become our responsibility and not the state’s.”
While only two of the seven miles of roadway would belong to the county with the remainder being in the towns, Ayers said there are five bridges and six culverts that would be the county’s responsibility.
”It (S.R. 267) just does not serve the state highway function,” Ayers said. “With the capacity, it has more of a local and regional function. They (INDOT) are looking to relinquish in several different places or roads that are more local than statewide. It is also cost savings to get rid of some of the older, leaner roads.”