County seeking to match road funds

BROWNSTOWN

Jackson County commissioners hope to obtain as much as $1 million in funding to help improve some of the county’s 738 miles of road and 190 bridges through a program the General Assembly set up this year.

The Community Crossings program, however, requires that governing units seeking the funding be able to provide half the cost of each project, and that’s where commissioners feel they might have an edge.

About five years ago, then county highway superintendent Warren Martin implemented a road inventory program known as PASER.

PASER, an Indiana Local Technical Assistance Program, allows governmental agencies to use visual inspections to inventory, assess and report the conditions of public roads and then use the evaluations to set priorities.

Commissioners President Matthew Reedy said Martin’s decision to put that program means Jackson County is in a better position to identify projects and go ahead and seek funds than many other local agencies around the state.

That will help the county as it begins preparing an application for the grant program, he said. The deadline to apply to the Indiana Department of Transportation for this year’s funding cycle is July 15.

The matching funds can come from any of three sources: The rainy day fund; funds generated by a motor vehicle excise tax (wheel tax); and/or from a special distribution of local income taxes by the state.

There’s presently about $2.7 million in the county’s rainy day fund and another $800,000 in the special distribution of local income taxes. The county does not have a wheel tax.

The county council will have to approve a source for local funding.

Commissioner Jerry Hounshel said he recently attended a meeting at INDOT’s Seymour District and received information about applying for some of the $190 million the state has set aside for road and bridge preservation projects through the program.

The funds also may be used for roundabouts and sidewalk ramps that are compliant with Americans with Disabilities Act requirements.

The program is three years in length, Hounshel said.

“… and the state is going to consider it again,” he said.

Grant winners will announced Aug. 2.

During their meeting June 7, commissioners discussed the program and opted to pursue the maximum grant amount of $1 million.

“I think our best chance is to get it this year,” Reedy said.

Commissioner Tom Joray said the program sounds like a great opportunity for the county to get some extra money for projects.

Commissioners eventually asked present county highway superintendent Jerry Ault to put together a list of road and bridge projects before commissioners ask the council for funding.

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