GREENFIELD — Bids for a project to beautify the Greenfield exit off Interstate 70 came in at about $3 million — double what the city budgeted for the project.
Now, city officials are working to scale back plans to make the project more affordable.
City officials and local contractor Smith Projects Inc. are now altering design plans for the I-70 and State Road 9 interchange in hopes of bringing the project closer to the city’s budgeted price.
City leaders have mulled dressing up the area for years, earmarking about $1.5 million of tax increment finance funds — money generated from businesses in the I-70 area for infrastructure improvements — for construction. City leaders say sprucing up the main entry into the city benefits local economic development and tourism by making the area more attractive. Now, the exit off I-70 into Greenfield is uninviting to passers-by, they say.
Last month, city officials learned the project as designed would cost more than expected. Renderings originally included 12 lighted posts lining State Road 9, foliage and trees.
City engineer Karla Vincent, whose office has overseen the project, recently told the city’s works board she is reviewing alternative designs from the contractor to make sure the project fits within the $1.5 million budget.
Smith Projects’ bid on the original scope of the project came in at $2.9 million, the lowest of two submitted. The other bid was about $3.6 million.
Mayor Chuck Fewell said he was a little surprised to see costs so high, but city leaders will find ways to cut costs while still achieving their goal for the project: enhancing the area.
“We don’t want to sacrifice quality for cost,” he said.
Vincent said the city won’t be able to install all 12 decorative posts included in the most recent renderings, but she hopes they’ll be able to install at least four — one in each corner of the interchange. Altered plans will also include landscaping through the median and along State Road 9, she said.
As many as 65,000 cars travel on Interstate 70 between Marion County and Hancock County daily, and city officials hope to bring more of those drivers into the city with a welcoming interstate exit.
Currently, there’s no sign immediately off I-70 welcoming visitors to the area. The only “Welcome to Greenfield, Indiana” sign is posted at the first stop sign south of the interstate; but it sits off the west side of State Road 9 and is easy to miss, officials say.
Officials first unveiled two potential designs for the project in June 2015. At the time, they asked residents to weigh in on which proposal they liked best.
When surveyed, many residents said they liked aspects of both designs, so the board of works sent the design firm, now called Hitchcock Design Group, back to the drawing board to create a design that combined the aspects residents liked from the original renderings.
Fewell said city leaders will ensure the final design still features many of the aspects residents preferred