INDOT Exchange Program Makes Long-Awaited Road Improvement a Reality
Vincennes’ Pilot Project is First of Four Proceeding to Construction
Plans to improve 2nd Street in Vincennes have been on the books for more than 15 years. But with the help of an INDOT pilot program, this long-awaited project has finally been awarded and contractors are free to begin work soon.
The six-block section of 2nd street that runs from Main Street to Hart Street hadn’t been resurfaced in more than 20 years and it shows. The roadway is deteriorated and the sidewalks are broken and don’t comply with federal standards laid out in the American with Disabilities Act. Plus, leaders in Vincennes hoped to add a bicycle lane, decorative street lighting, and curb ramps to match improvements made to the downtown stretch of Main Street.
The main hurdle all those years was how to fund the $2.1 million project. In April, the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) announced that Vincennes was selected as one of four municipalities for a pilot project that would allow them to trade in federal funding the city already received for state funding. The municipalities trade $1 of federal funding for 75 cents in state funding but the payoff is that the swap reduces some of the regulatory hurdles the projects must meet.
“We were thrilled to be included,” said Vincennes Mayor Joe Yochum. “This corridor is not only important to the city but the improvements will greatly increase safety.”
Engineering firm Lochmueller Group (Lochgroup) moved plans for the project along quickly and the construction could begin any day. The road work should be completed by the end of next year.
“This project just wouldn’t be where it’s at today without INDOT’s program,” Yochum said.
Designers had to work with some unexpected challenges in this historic part of town, according to Lochgroup Project Manager Jeff Whitaker. Some of the buildings directly abut the sidewalks and engineers needed to ensure that the buildings wouldn’t be harmed when the sidewalks are replaced.
Also, many of the older buildings used to be heated by coal and coal chutes jutted out underneath the sidewalk. Some even had grates that had been incorporated into the walkways. A few of those will be preserved with plaques explaining them, while others will be filled in. Another older building had a basement that was built out past its property line, jutting beneath the sidewalk. That too will be filled in.
Whittaker said the reconstructed road will include two travel lanes, new sidewalks, a bicycle lane, and decorative ramps and streetlights.
“Under the INDOT program, the project was quicker and cheaper because there is less paperwork,” Whitaker said.
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