Meeting after meeting has been conducted, but no progress has been made on the rehabilitation of the Shieldstown Covered Bridge.
Jackson County Commissioners President Matt Reedy said he has attended several progress meetings with Indiana Department of Transportation officials.
But the project’s contractor, Duncan Robertson Inc. of Franklin, has not been present at those meetings.
During a commissioners meeting earlier this week, Reedy announced that Senator-elect Eric Koch, R-Bedford, has agreed to look into the issue and help in any way he can.
“INDOT only moved us to the local level as far as working with the contractor, and I wanted to get up the ladder,” Reedy said. “Senator-elect Koch will get me up the ladder and everything a lot quicker.”
Reedy said he spoke with Koch at the end of last week, and someone from his office followed up with Reedy on Monday.
In the Nov. 8 general election, Koch won the Senate District 44 seat, which serves all of Brown and Lawrence counties and parts of Bartholomew, Jackson and Monroe counties.
He previously served District 65 in the House of Representatives, which covers Brown County, most of Lawrence County and parts of Monroe, Jackson and Johnson counties. Republican Chris May won that seat in November.
“A senator has got a lot more pull with INDOT than does a county commissioner,” Reedy said. “I’m not exactly sure what he’s going to do, but I have had a decent conversation with him, and I’m comfortable that things will move forward now.”
Reedy said INDOT plans to have another progress meeting at the beginning of 2017, but he doesn’t plan to attend.
“Because this will be the sixth or seventh meeting of the same thing — no resolution, no projected start date, no materials purchased and (Duncan Robertson officials) don’t show up at meetings,” Reedy said. “We can only have so many meetings about the same thing.”
At the Dec. 6 commissioners meeting, Reedy said since Duncan Robertson has not submitted a construction timeline or reordered materials for the project, it might be time for commissioners to consider another approach.
He said he would like to see the state give the county the money to hire another contractor and complete the rehabilitation of the 140-year-old covered bridge.
He said he thinks it’s time for the county to take legal action against the state because the state is the only one that has access to the company’s performance bond for the project. That bond covers the cost of the project.
Reedy asked county attorney Susan Bevers to send a letter to INDOT stating commissioners would like to see a construction timeline and proof the timber had been ordered by Dec. 16.
Since those conditions were not met, Reedy said the county would consider pursuing legal avenues against the state.
In early 2015, Duncan Robertson was awarded the $1.1 million contract for the project. The company had until July 31 of this year to complete it.
The work, which includes replacement of some of the wood beams and roof and replacing the joists under the bridge, is far from complete, and the company is incurring fines at the rate of $1,500 a day. The fines now total more than $200,000, Bevers said.
Workers with Duncan Robertson recently returned to the site to place a wrap long enough to cover the open sides of bridge, which sits along County Road 200N in Hamilton Township.
Read the full story in Friday’s Tribune and online at tribtown.com.