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 Carthage Pike Project Delayed

December 17, 2008 - Originally slated to begin in September, construction on the Carthage Pike improvement project likely won’t get underway until spring.

That news was included in an update Rush County Highways Superintendent Jerry Sitton gave at the Dec. 2 meeting of the Carthage Town Council. Sitton said work on the project’s first phase, which covers the stretch of the Carthage Pike between State Road 140 and Three Mile Road, won’t start until relocation of utility lines and drainage work have been completed.

Planning for the $4.26 million project, which will widen the road to two 11-foot lanes with four-foot shoulders to improve drainage, began in 2000. In addition to widening the road, curves near Woods Campground and a town-owned cemetery will also be realigned, and a bridge near the campground will be replaced.

Goshen-based Reith-Riley was awarded a $1.4 million contract to handle construction on Phase 1 of the project. Sitton told members of the Carthage Town Council he hopes that firm will also get the contract for the second phase, which will run from Three Mile Road to County Road 550-West. That contract, he said, should be awarded in March or April and would likely be comparable in cost to the first phase.

Sitton told the council that construction on the third and final phase of the project, which will end at the town’s northern limits, is not expected to begin until sometime in 2010, at the earliest. He said the cost of work on that last stretch of road, and the timeline for when it will begin, depends on what is done with an S curve that winds by a cemetery owned by the town.

Currently, the 45 mph speed limit on Carthage Pike slows to 30 mph at this particular curve. Sitton said if the curve is improved to maintain the higher speed limit -- something he said was favored by many citizens who offered comments on the project at a public hearing -- that could result in much higher construction costs.

Sitton said there five different plans for doing away with the slower 30 mph curve, one of which would require construction of a bridge costing as much as $3 million, nearly doubling the estimated total project cost. Another plan, which he said would be less expensive, would require the relocation of at least 90 graves in the cemetery.

If a 30 mph curve is maintained, however, Sitton said only four graves at the cemetery will need to be moved. While he said he did not think the reduced speed would impede traffic that much, he said the final decision on whether to go back to the 30 mph design would be up to the Rush County Commissioners.

In other business at the Dec. 2 meeting, the Carthage Town Council also approved $118,979.10 in final payments to three contractors who did work on improvements to the town’s water utility. These payments represent five percent of the total amounts paid to the three firms. The council also approved additional payments of $17,437.34, $92,310.44 and $1,177.04 to an engineering firm, grant administrators, and the town’s attorney, respectively, for work on the project.

In a related matter, the council also approved hiring an appraiser to value two easements the town had to obtain for the water project. Kenneth Fleetwood will do the two appraisals for a total cost of $1,700.

The council also approved three addenda adding $379,000 in costs to the town’s contract with engineers for the town’s next major project, improvements to its wastewater utility, bringing total engineering costs to $477,000. A representative from the U.S. Department of Agriculture who attended the Dec. 2 meeting told the council he is still waiting to hear if this project, which has estimated construction costs of $3.5 million, will be funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The council also received information at the Dec. 2 meeting from Bill Vankirk of MainSource Insurance. While the council voted two weeks earlier to switch its insurance to Greenfield firm Pence Low and Brooks, Vankirk’s proposal appeared to be about $6,000 less.

Clerk-Treasurer Linda McMahan told the council she knew MainSource wanted to submit a proposal, but said she had not expected the council to make a decision at its Nov. 19 meeting. The council’s attorney, Chuck Todd, encouraged the council to compare the MainSource proposal with the one from Pence Low and Brooks and said he would research the council’s options.

The Carthage Town Council is scheduled to hold a special meeting at 6 p.m. tonight, to address two hazardous residential properties in town and other matters. The meeting, which is open to the public, will be held at Town Hall, 6 W. First St.


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