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  • Writer's pictureBill Raines

RDC Member Scott Smith Questions Financial Position for Merdian Road Bridge Project

LAWRENCE COUNTY - APRIL 14, 2023 - Lawrence County RDC member Scott Smith questioned the financial position of the group for a bridge project on Merdian Road.

The group tabled any action until questions about funding could be answered at the next meeting on May 11th.

The cost for a survey permit which is required for water ways in urban areas will cost the RDC $30,500. Brent Roberts of Butler, Fairman, & Seufeart was on hand to answer questions the group had.

However, the cost for replacing the bridge structure or extending it is unknown to the group. The structure is less than 20 feet and is not considered a bridge by Indiana Department of Transportation standards.

" If we move forward on this, where is the funding going to come from a bridge project," asked Smith.

" Once we get to this point, how are you going to fund the project? Once the study is completed and this becomes a bridge project where the funding is coming from,"

" I was under the anticipation that the Lawrence County RDC was going to pick it up, this has been something that has been impacted by the Lehigh construction project," answered Jeff Quyle president of the Lawrence County RDC.

" The Mitchell Shell building went off the radar for several months, and now its is back on, I just did not where the funding is going to come from," asked Smith.

" We are going to be looking at Baker/Tilly invoices, bonds, paying interest rates, and closing costs, and shared costs with the City of Mitchell," Smith stated.

Lawrence County Zephyr will update the Mitchell Shell Building in another feature.

Video: Questions about the Meridian Road bridge structure project

According to Wally Branham the Lawrence County Commissioners do not have enough money to pave roads and repair the bridge structure in the area of the Lehigh construction project. The Lawrence County Commissioners did not budget for the any road or bridge projects in 2023 for any of the work around the Lehigh Cement construction project.

The construction project has damaged the roadways, and with the heavy semi traffic have caused concerns about the bridge structure. When the paving begins or added to the bridge could cause additional structural concerns.

Because this is only a bridge structure and not an actual bridge the City of Mitchell would be responsible for any weight limits and restrictions on the bridge. The weight limit may have to be reduce to 16-20 weight limit.

The county will have to secure right of way from the City of Mitchell and Lehigh Cement Company, with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources and U.S. Corps of Engineers will be responsible for the permits.

The Lawrence County RDC only received one bid for the paving on Merdian Road from Milestone Paving and is waiting for additional bids, which were sent to Flynn & Sons and E & B Paving.

The bids for the project could deplete the remaining funds the Lawrence County RDC has available.

The Lehigh Cement Plant Project is about to be completed this year.

Photo: A weight restriction may have to be placed on the bridge in Mitchell, which could cause a detour of the semi's coming into the Lehigh Cement Plant

The Lawrence County RDC is using funds from the sale of the Dunn Memorial Hospital building of approximately $1.3 Million has now dwindled down due to consulting fees, attorney fees, and other projects funded by the group.

The revenues for the Lawrence County RDC are not expected until the year 2026, with Lehigh's 100 percent tax abatement in 2025, and 10 percent increments from 2025.

The Lawrence County Council voted earlier in 2022 to split the 15 percent from fees from the Lehigh TIF district between the RDC and the Lawrence County Growth Council.

In August 2022, the group considered a MOU between the Marion Township Volunteer Fire Department for the renovation of their fire station.

The group will be updated at the next meeting and take appropriate action, many of the RDC members would like to see the Merdian Road and Mill Creek Road projects completed.

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