HANCOCK COUNTY — Janine Robinson said she is sick of dodging potholes outside her subdivision.
Rough patches of pavement, cracks in the asphalt and loose stones pepper the stretch of Windswept Road that has deteriorated steadily over the past five years, Robinson said
But relief is in sight.
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A $5.5 million deposit from the state will give county road work and sidewalk projects a boost this year.
The funding came as part of a deal hashed out during this year’s legislative session, which released $10.4 million to Hancock County’s 25 taxing units, which include the county, cities, towns, townships, libraries and schools.Historically, the state has set aside a portion of the county’s income taxes for emergencies. Senate Bill 67 released those funds to taxing units across the state; counties, cities and towns are expected to get the largest payouts, and the majority of their funding must be earmarked for infrastructure improvements.
Schools, townships and libraries in Hancock County are receiving roughly $2.4 million, which will be distributed into their rainy day funds.
The $10.4 million was disbursed to the county’s auditor’s office in late April and must be divvied up by June 1.
Many local officials see no harm in investing the majority of their distribution in infrastructure projects — roads across the state are in dire need of repair, and locally, funding budgeted each year for road improvements doesn’t go far, officials said.
The county’s highway department and city street department have already started drafting their wish lists for the additional funding.
Brad Armstrong, president of the Hancock County Board of Commissioners, said the highway department can complete nearly twice as much road work as originally planned for 2016.In all, the county received about $3.6 million in additional funding.
Hancock County Highway Department engineer Gary Pool said about 40 percent of the funding will go toward paving projects, while the remaining 60 percent will be spent on road maintenance projects, including sealing cracks and chips along roadways.
Before local officials knew state funding was coming, the highway department’s projects covered 90 miles of local roads; with the additional cash, that number will be 155 miles, which makes up about a quarter of the county’s roads.
Among the scheduled projects, county crews will seal cracks along nearly 8 miles of Fortville Pike, 9 miles of County Road 600E and more than 6 miles along County Road 1050E.
Crews will also apply chip sealing — a mixture of small rocks and asphalt — to several stretches of local thoroughfares, including county roads 700W, 600W, 600N, 500N, 500S and 100N.
Several subdivisions will also receive a chip-seal coating, though crews are still assessing which specific neighborhood roads will be touched.
After budgeting $226,000 for its local road and street fund, the city of Greenfield received about $2.3 million in additional funding from the state.Because the windfall is a one-time deal, city officials plan to make it stretch for several years, said street commissioner Tyler Rankins.
Plans for this year’s work include repaving roads, fixing potholes and addressing dilapidated sidewalks.
Approximately 4 miles of road will be repaved this summer — usually there’s enough funding for just 1 mile of road. The repaving is planned for subdivisions throughout city limits, with a majority of work focused on the Whitcomb Meadows subdivision south of U.S. 40, where almost every road in it will be touched.
No large projects are planned for major city streets, Rankins said. Windswept Road in Greenfield will be repaved as well as Maple Drive, which runs near Harris Elementary School.
Crews will also spot repair major potholes with asphalt. Rankins estimates as many as 70 spot repairs will be performed throughout the summer, with McKenzie Road being one major thoroughfare getting the attention.
The city also plans to seal chips and cracks on about 20 miles of city streets this summer.
Rankins said he’s grateful the city is getting the extra money to address road problems but added there needs to be a long-term fix to road funding from state lawmakers. Communities across the state pinch pennies when it comes to making road improvements, he said.
This week, the city council will take up the issue, drafting an ordinance that creates a special fund for the money the city will receive. Officials plan to invest about $575,000 — the remaining 25 percent — into their rainy day fund.