Overpass in infrastructure plan

A council of regional business leaders has identified 63 infrastructure improvement projects, including one for an overpass of the Louisville & Indiana Railroad track on Tipton Street in Seymour.

Those recommendations were included in the Southeast Regional Logistics Council strategic plan, which was released in the past week.

The plan, titled “Regional Links: Global Connections,” includes four priority projects besides the one in Seymour, which has an estimated price tag of $65 million.

The others are adding lanes to Interstate 65, Interstate 64, U.S. 421 and U.S. 50; connecting Madison to Interstate 65 by widening State Road 256 to a four-lane expressway; redesigning the State Road 46 and State Road 11 intersection at Columbus and designing a rail grade separation with the Louisville & Indiana Railroad; and creating a West Lawrenceburg truck corridor from State Road 46 and U.S. 50 at Aurora to U.S. 50 and State Road 1 east of Lawrenceburg.

The council brought together about 35 logistics executives and other leaders from the southeast part of the state with the purpose of developing strategies, goals and tactics to maximize short- and long-term success for the logistics sector in the 15-county region, chairman Doug Prather said.

Prather, president of Ranger Enterprises LLC in Seymour, said it’s not a surprise Seymour figures heavily in the regional plan and a statewide plan created by Conexus Indiana Logistics Council with the backing of the Indiana Department of Transportation, the Indiana Economic Development Corp. and the Ports of Indiana.

Conexus was formed about six years ago in part to look at transportation needs for the entire state with the goal of making the state a global leader. Six regional councils were formed to come up with more specific needs of different parts of the state, Prather said.

Prather has been involved with Conexus’ work for several years.

“At the statewide level, Seymour is recognized very, very favorably in terms of the growth here in the past 25 years,” he said.

That growth includes the addition of jobs in the county by many manufacturers, including Cummins Engine Co., he said.

“We’re being described as a very key and strong part of Indiana,” he said.

Prather said the council includes a mix of representatives of people associated with road, rail, air and waterborne transportation.

“Historically, we’ve been competing with one another to move products, but we’re all dependent upon each other,” he said.

“The goal was to make sure we had representation across all modes of transportation.”

Prather said that, with its access to all four modes of transportation, southeast Indiana is a gateway to global markets.

“And we are smart to maximize both short- and long-term successes for the business community and residents,” he said.

The strategic plan provides a comprehensive blueprint of the region’s logistics resources.

The goal was to provide a road map for 10, 20 and even 30 years down the road so the state and each region can remain competitive, he said.

“The overall goal is to look at every project that needs to be done,” he said.

The rail grade separation project proposed for Tipton Street at the L&I Railroad line is just one of several proposals to upgrade crossings. The other proposals are for South Walnut Street, which has an estimated cost of $10 million, and County Road 340N south of Seymour, which has an estimated cost of $2 million.

Another proposed project in the plan in the Seymour area involves converting U.S. 50 from two lanes to four lanes from U.S. 31 on Seymour’s east side to the North Vernon bypass. That project has an estimated cost of $115.2 million.

Prather said the council met with economic officials and government officials from many of the communities in the region during the two years it took to put the plan together.

“So many of these communities already have plans in place,” he said.

Seymour, for instance, has talked about building an overpass over the L&I Railroad south of the city to deal with an increase in train traffic expected once a $90 million upgrade is finished in a few years.

The project to widen Interstate 65 from Indianapolis to Louisville calls for eventually making it four lanes in both directions with two lanes for trucks, Prather said. That project has a price tag of $2.08 billion.

The next step in the process is working with local government, economic development and business leaders to see about getting some of the proposed projects completed, he said.

On the Web

The plan is available online at conexusindiana.com/logistics-strategic-plan.

At a glance

Some of the proposed projects:

Regional

Interstate 65 additional lanes: $2.06 billion

U.S. 50 improvements between Seymour and the North Vernon bypass: $115.2 million

Jackson County

South Seymour truck corridor from Burkart Boulevard to U.S. 50 on the west side of Seymour: $31.7 million

U.S. 50/Interstate 65 improvement: Cost estimate not available

U.S. 50/U.S. 31 improvement to relieve bottlenecks: $2 million

Improving and widening State Road 258 from Bell Ford Drive in Seymour to State Road 58: $53.8 million

Seymour rail intersection reduction from six to two: $70 million

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