HANCOCK COUNTY — Drivers caught in the bottleneck rush-hour traffic between Mt. Comfort and McCordsville will get little relief if local officials can’t come to an agreement on how to fund the proposed bypass for the area.
Officials from the town of McCordsville and Hancock County continue to debate who should pay for what portion of the proposed $47 million project; meanwhile, Gary Pool, Hancock County highway engineer, has applied for $6 million in federal funding to begin purchasing land to widen the thoroughfare.
The bypass project, intended to alleviate traffic along a one-mile stretch of Mount Comfort Road, would widen the thoroughfare and loop it east and north around McCordsville before reconnecting north of State Road 67.
Mt. Comfort Road is two lanes between County Roads 300N and 400N and often becomes clogged during rush hour. The development of Mt. Comfort Business Park over the years has brought semitrailer traffic to the area, making the traffic problem worse, county officials said.
Pool said federal grant dollars can be used to start some of the prep work for the project. The county must buy land from property owners on both sides of the road where it will be widened. The county expects to hear back on the $6 million grant in the coming weeks.
Negotiations with property owners can take years, Pool said; the first phase of the project is slated to begin in 2021 with final completion in 2031.
None of the land in the one-mile stretch of the project’s first phase lies in McCordsville town limits, so the town would be off the hook for initial costs, Pool said.
County and McCordsville town officials say they hope to reach consensus about who is responsible for what costs by fall in order to qualify for additional federal grant dollars.
Brad Armstrong, president of the Hancock County commissioners, said the town and county are committed to the project. Though town and county officials disagree on how much each side should pay, they agree the project is essential for the area, he said.
Ryan Crum, building and zoning director for McCordsville, said once completed, the project will drastically improve driving conditions through town.
The bypass will cross over the railroad tracks that run through McCordsville, which will significantly alleviate traffic that backs up when trains come through town, he added.
Armstrong said town and county officials will meet in the coming months to discuss a potential funding agreement; a meeting date has not been set.