GREENFIELD — Spring and summer roadwork season has begun, and with more cash on hand, local officials say residents can expect plenty of improvements this year.
City, county and state road and street departments are preparing for road preservation, pavement and bridge repair projects that begin this month and will last through the fall. While not all plans are finalized yet, officials say they’re ready for a busy season.
The Hancock County Highway Department, for example, is chip-and-sealing 10 more miles of road surface this year than last year, and it’s also experimenting with a new sealant to preserve roads.
“I’m trying to get a lot of the gravel and stuff done in front of peoples’ houses so it doesn’t get dusty,” said Gary Pool, Hancock County highway engineer. “Chip-and-seal is a pretty good option for the county.”
Local departments can do more this year because of the state Legislature’s decision in 2013 to spend more money on roads. Hancock County is getting roughly $700,000 more in road funding this year; the city of Greenfield saw a boost of nearly $170,000.
A total of 12.8 miles of rural county roads will be chip-and-sealed this year; 5.1 miles will be repaved; and 2.5 miles will be strip-paved. Several roads will also get a dura-patch sealant, and the department will experiment with “fog sealing” this year – a process that uses a wet substance that dries faster than traditional chip-and-seal.
Pool said he understands chip-and-seal – a technique that involves pressing gravel into an oily base – isn’t popular because tar gets onto tires and cars. But not every road can be repaved every year.
“If we don’t do it, our roads are just going to keep breaking and there will be potholes; it’s a lot easier to get oil off your car than to fix a broken tire,” he said.
The county department is working in conjunction with the Indiana Department of Transportation on a few large projects this summer. The multilane roundabout at Mt. Comfort Road and CR 300N will break ground soon, though a timeline for the spring and summer work has not been set yet.
Major bridge repair projects include the bridge over Doe Creek on CR 600W and the bridge on CR200N just west of CR 600W.
Construction along Interstate 70 will continue through the summer. Nathan Riggs, INDOT spokesman, said concrete barrier walls are being installed now to make way for a traffic shift between Ind. 9 and Mt. Comfort Road.
While eastbound lanes were rebuilt last year, this year, the westbound lanes will be redone. The traffic shift will have a similar feel to last summer.
“By and large, the westbound side is in better shape than the eastbound side was before last year’s work,” Riggs said.
Work on I-70 is expected to be complete this fall, Riggs added.
Officials in the city of Greenfield are tying up loose ends on plans for the summer and fall.
Street superintendent Jim Hahn said he’s pleased the city can do more work than usual this year because of the increase in state funding, but just how much more is still in question. That’s because the city is trying to verify estimates of material cost before finalizing its list of repair projects.
Projects in the plans so far include resurfacing of New Road from Ind. 9 to the Apple Street roundabout; McKenzie Road from the Broadway Street roundabout east to Brandywine Parkway; Meridian Road from New Road to Lark Ranch; and Davis Road from Morristown Pike to the entrance of Brandywine Park.
A major road-widening project will break ground this summer at Franklin Street, from Main Street south to Davis Road. The Potts Ditch relocation project will also begin this summer, though a timeline for road construction has not been announced yet.
Hahn said a few smaller paving projects might be added to the list.