Bridge taking toll on town

BROWNSTOWN

The small unincorporated community of Kurtz generally doesn’t have a problem with rush-hour traffic.

A $845,497 state project to replace and move a bridge on State Road 58 just east of the town, however, has created issues for residents and motorists.

The delay in completion of that project, which began Oct. 9 and was supposed to take 60 days to complete, is just going to aggravate the problems this winter, a town resident told county commissioners Tuesday.

That delay likely is going to cost the contractor, HIS Constructors of Indianapolis, $1,000 a day after this coming Tuesday, a state official said Wednesday.

Roy Fleetwood, who lives on Cleveland Street in Kurtz, attended the commissioners’ meeting with the purpose of asking them to address the issue.

He offered a couple of solutions, the first of which was putting speed bumps on Cleveland Street, the main north-south street through town.

Cleveland Street is presently being used as a detour for motorists traveling east on State Road 58 to the town. The unofficial detour takes them off State Road 58 to Gorbetts Road where they can turn east and make their way on to Freetown. The official state detour uses State Road 446, U.S. 50 and State Road 135.

Fleetwood said there has always been some issues with motorists speeding through the town, which is less than 10 blocks in size. State Road 58 is used by people with jobs in Seymour and other nearby cities. Farmers also haul grain on roads in the area, and horsemen travel to the area to get to nearby horse camps.

Fleetwood also asked commissioners to consider making both Second and Cleveland streets and Third and Cleveland streets four-way stops as a way of slowing down motorists.

He said between 5 a.m. and 7 a.m. work days, a person cannot walk across Cleveland Street without the fear of being struck because of the heavy volume of traffic.

Fleetwood presented commissioners with a petition signed by everyone along that street asking for county help.

“Everyone along that street has been affected,” he said.

He said his pet Yorkie recently was struck and killed by a motorist, and there also are issues with Kurtz Nazarene Church, which owns property on both sides of the street.

After-school activities are conducted there each week, and about 30 children attend.

“They go back-and-forth across the road,” Fleetwood said. “Someone has to stand out there and flag people down.”

Commissioners eventually voted 3-0 to make Second and Cleveland streets a four-way stop.

Commissioner Matt Reedy said he thought making both intersections four-way stops was too much.

“They have two blocks to slow down,” said Reedy, who serves the western half of the county, including Kurtz.

Indiana Department of Transportation spokesman Harry Maginity said he had recently talked with the engineer overseeing the bridge project about the delay, and there are concerns about how soon the contractor can wrap up the project.

“They’ve asked for an extension,” Maginity said. “We’ve denied. We intend to charge them $1,000 a day in liquidated damages.”

The project involves the relocation of a branch of Bee Creek to the east by about 30 feet and raising State Road 58 nearly 5 feet. The new structure will have a 36-foot span and be 80 feet wide.

Maginity said officials with HIS have said the first of four concrete pours for the footers for a new three-sided box structure was be to be completed today. A second is to follow next week.

He said the state doesn’t doubt the contractor can install the box structure, but approaches will be needed to be poured with asphalt, and asphalt plants are closed during the winter.

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Aubrey Woods is editor of The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at awoods@tribtown.com or 812-523-7051.