GREENFIELD — An impending road-widening project along South CR 600W is raising concerns among residents of a nearby neighborhood about drainage and flooding.
County officials recently held an informational meeting to discuss right-of-way acquisition for the widening, which is part of a larger plan to improve CR 600W from Interstate 70 to U.S. 52. The county this spring is making offers for the land.
The meeting, however, took a surprising turn when 40 or so residents of the Brier Creek subdivision – which is more than a half-mile away – showed up to express concerns about chronic flooding in their neighborhood. They also raised concerns the roadwork would mean more water in their streets.
“We’re not disputing the project,” said resident Brad Morris. “We’re just disputing where the water from the project is going, and we have had a problem here for a long time that keeps getting pushed on the back burner.”
Morris said the dozens of homes near CR 700W south of U.S. 40 experience flooding several times a year, and it seems to be getting worse.
Morris, an 11-year resident of the neighborhood, said it can get so bad that people can’t even reach the 28 homes along Vera Drive three or four times a year because a ditch to the north of the neighborhood swells with water. Residents have occasionally called county officials about the problem to no avail, he added.
The county plans to break ground in 2016 on the widening project on CR 600W south of U.S. 40 to Broken Arrow Drive. Morris said that project is definitely needed because the road also floods and can be too narrow and unsafe. But he worries that new culverts in the roadwork will divert more water toward the Brier Creek neighborhood.
Gary Pool, engineer for the county highway department, said he was pleased with the high attendance at the informational meeting at Adaggios Banquet Hall. But Pool says the road expansion shouldn’t bring more water into the neighborhood.
Still, both Pool and county Surveyor Susan Bodkin took note of the concerns. Both visited the area within the two days following the meeting, and Bodkin said the county drainage board late last week decided to hire a consultant to look at the flooding problems and see whether something can be done.
“The day after the meeting, we went out and looked at the ditches, took some pictures,” Bodkin said. “We were in the neighborhood and talked to some people. We’re willing to help them.”
Meanwhile, offers are being made to the owners of 29 parcels along CR 600W south of U.S. 40.
In 2012, Hancock County received a federal grant to purchase right of way.
A total of $322,000 will be made in offers to landowners. Pool says so far, property owners seem receptive to the project. The county has time to acquire the land, he added: A federal grant for construction means ground will likely will be broken in 2016.
Flooding and safety are two main reasons to expand the road. Drainage will be improved and wider lanes will promote safety for the increasing amount of traffic on the county road. The portion of the road will look similar to CR 600W north of U.S. 40, with 12-foot lanes and shoulders instead of the current 10-foot lanes.
But the added drainage, Pool said, should not greatly affect the Brier Creek addition to the west of the project.
“Just because I don’t think it has anything to do with the road (expansion) project doesn’t mean I don’t care about the problem,” Pool added.
For Morris, the meeting and subsequent visits from county officials are positive steps.
“I feel good they came out the next day and recognized the problem,” Morris said. “We’re waiting to see how the follow-through goes.”