HANCOCK COUNTY – The county was awarded over $13.1 million in federal money for road improvements – the largest award in the state for the latest funding round.
Five projects are slated to be funded through the initiative in 2028, including a road widening, two roundabouts and two bridge replacements. A 20% match from the county joins the federal award. The windfall continues a trend of success for the county’s efforts toward securing road funding outside of its own coffers.
Hancock County applied to the Indiana Department of Transportation for five projects, and all were awarded. One is over $2.7 million to widen Mt. Comfort Road from CR 600S to Stinemyer Road.
Gary Pool, Hancock County engineer, said that stretch of Mt. Comfort Road will retain the same number of lanes. But it’s currently very narrow, he continued, adding the project will expand it to a “more reasonable width” while also adding shoulders.
Roundabouts are coming to CR 700W at CR 350N and CR 500N in the warehouse-heavy western part of the county thanks to awards of over $3.3 million each.
“We’re getting a lot of traffic out there, so we’re trying to buff up our safety in that area,” Pool said.
The funding round also awarded nearly $1.9 million to replace a bridge taking CR 900N over Sugar Creek, and nearly $1.8 million to replace a bridge taking CR 500N over Brandywine Creek.
Pool noted both crossings are box beam bridges, leading him to believe they were built in the 1960s or 1970s. He added that full inspections are conducted on county bridges every other year and cursory inspections are conducted every year. Ratings from those inspections as well as a cost-benefit analysis are motivating the replacements, Pool said.
He said the latest awards continue a trend of Hancock County getting the largest amount from the initiative. It nearly doubles the second largest award this year of over $7.2 million, which went to Hamilton County.
“We work hard,” Pool said. “We sell the need. We’re getting a lot of development out here. I’m trying to keep up. INDOT’s been a good partner. The (Hancock County) Commissioners and Council have been good at doing the local match part of it. … The council and commissioners have a lot of competing needs. Anytime we can get 80% of it paid for by the state – because everyone here pays state taxes too – it makes the dollars go further.”
Hancock County’s total award makes up over 10% of the total award across the state of $127.6 million.
“Our county is good at developing the projects when we say we are, so they keep giving us money,” Pool said. “We have a need, the county is growing, we’re providing employment for the whole region. We’re doing our best.”
He added he appreciates the public’s patience as the county carries out road improvements.
INDOT reported in a news release that funding was awarded to 38 cities, towns and counties across rural Indiana to invest in local road and bridge improvements, as well as sidewalk and trail projects. Combined with local funds, the total comes out to nearly $157 million in improvements.
“Improving local infrastructure is essential to the constant growth of communities across Indiana,” Gov. Eric Holcomb said in the release. “Enhancing our state’s transportation network allows for continued economic success to follow and a better quality of life for Hoosiers.”
For the latest round of funding, local communities will design, develop and purchase land for projects that would be bid during the fiscal year beginning July 2027. While the funds awarded now are dedicated to construction, INDOT will financially participate in design, engineering and right-of-way acquisition components for some projects.
“Modernized infrastructure strengthens communities,” INDOT Commissioner Mike Smith said in the release. “INDOT’s commitment to improve local roads and bridges, as well as expand sidewalks and trails illustrates the partnerships in place that are making Hoosier cities, towns and counties great places to live, work and play.”
INDOT dedicates about 25% of its federal highway funds to supporting local projects each year. Metropolitan Planning Organizations, or MPOs, distribute those funds to cities, towns and counties within the state’s larger urbanized areas while INDOT distributes funds outside MPO areas. Communities must contribute at least 20% in local matching funds and meet other federal requirements to receive federal funding.
Rural communities were invited to submit project applications to INDOT for potential funding during a call for projects announced last fall.
Hancock County federal road improvement awards
Widening Mt. Comfort Road from CR 600S to Stinemyer Road – $2,708,800
Roundabout on CR 700W at CR 500N – $3,360,600
Roundabout on CR 700W at CR 350N – $3,360,600
Bridge replacement on CR 900N over Sugar Creek – $1,897,920
Bridge replacement on CR 500N over Brandywine Creek – $1,780,160
Source: Indiana Department of Transportation