UPDATE TO THIS STORY POSTED HERE: http://www.bcdemocrat.com/2016/08/23/indot-awards-road-grants-to-brown-county-nashville/

Town and county leaders will know by the end of this month whether they’re going to be able to double their money for road work.

Nashville Utility Coordinator Sean Cassiday and Brown County Highway Superintendent Mike Magner submitted their requests for the Community Crossings matching grant at the end of July.

The Indiana Department of Transportation program allows communities across the state to receive up to $1 million in matching funds for roads and bridges.

The county is asking for slightly more than $1 million; the town is asking for $171,000.

In order to apply, Cassiday and Magner had to assign each road in their inventory a condition rating.

INDOT will decide which roads get money based on that rating, said Charlie Day, a retired Bartholomew County engineer whom the town hired to help write its INDOT grant applications.

Other factors INDOT will consider are whether or not the projects meet community needs; are well-planned, widely supported and funded; benefit more than only the residents in the community; and connect well to other plans for land use.

INDOT also will consider road usage and traffic counts, the grant paperwork said.

Cassiday said the soonest any grant money would come would be in September; when the road work would actually get done isn’t certain yet.

County’s list

Magner applied for funding to pave parts of four asphalt county roads: Salt Creek Road, Sweetwater Trail, T.C. Steele Road and Crooked Creek Road.The work is estimated to cost just over $2 million combined.

The state will only match up to $1 million, but Magner said he wanted the county to get as much grant money as possible.

If both projects are awarded grants and end up costing as much as the estimate, the county could be responsible for another $65,150, plus its $1 million match.

Most of the county’s match will come from a special distribution it received in May of local income tax funds normally held in reserve by the state. The remainder will come from the county’s rainy day fund.

Those two sources and increased wheel tax rates are the only approved way to fund the local match.

The larger project for the grant money is resurfacing 13.28 miles of Salt Creek Road and Sweetwater Trail, from State Road 46 East to the northern county line. It’s estimated to cost $1.375 million; $687,500 is how much Magner is asking for from the state.

The smaller project would be to resurface and overlay 7.5 miles of T.C. Steele and Crooked Creek roads from State Road 46 East to Crooked Creek Lake. It’s estimated to cost $755,300, with as much as $377,650 coming from the grant program.

Magner said those routes were chosen because they connect high-traffic areas for locals and tourists and serve as alternate routes for state roads — criteria that INDOT will look for in approving grants.

Both projects are rated a 3 or 4, placing them among the county’s worst roads.

Of the 171 asphalt road sections on the county’s inventory, none were rated a 9 or 10 — like a brand-new road.

Only 16 were rated as an 8. Those are the 23 miles that were reclaimed and resurfaced last fall at a cost of $2.4 million.

The worst rating any paved county roads received was a 3. Forty-three roads are in that category, including Valley Branch Road, which took a lot of extra wear in 2014 when INDOT used it as a State Road 135 South detour. INDOT is supposed to pay to repave Valley Branch, but that money hasn’t come yet.

Sixty-two road sections were rated as a 4, including Mount Liberty Road, which was part of that detour.

Some of the county roads resurfaced last fall would have been rated a 3 or 4 if no work had been done, Magner said. Asphalt on a few of them was only about 2 inches deep, so crews had to work on the base of the road, too.

No county roads are currently rated a 1 or a 2. That would require digging down about a foot below the road surface to start rebuilding, Magner said.

Of the remaining asphalt roads in the county’s inventory, 33 were rated a 5, 13 were rated a 6, and three — Jackson Branch Ridge, Homestead and Brown Hill roads — received a 7.

Nashville’s list

Nashville’s wish list totals $969,321.87 in road repairs through 2020.For the 31 road sections tagged for work in 2016, the cost is $359,722.99.

Right now, the town has $171,758 to use on its 11.26 miles of roads. That money came from a special tax distribution from the state.

If the town were to be granted the full 1-to-1 match from INDOT, it could have $343,516 to work with.

Any amount would be an improvement. Town road budgets have been zero for the past couple years except for emergency patching, Cassiday said.

The town’s plan going forward is to fix small problems before they become larger ones.

A properly maintained asphalt road lasts 15 to 20 years, Day said; an overlay can extend the life of a road by 5 to 10 more, Cassiday said.

Of the 63 road sections on the town’s list, most were rated in the 7 to 10 category — the top rating. They only need crack sealant or other minor preventative work.

Seventeen roads were rated a 5 or 6, needing a full seal coat to prevent further damage; and 15 were scored at a 3 or 4, needing a full mill and asphalt overlay.

Only two town road sections were rated as a 1 or 2, needing complete reconstruction: all of McGee Road, and Old State Road 46 from Salt Creek Road to the end of the town’s section just past Creekside Retreat. But neither of them is on the wish list for 2016; they aren’t heavily traveled.

In doing the road inventory, Cassiday said he found three roads in Nashville’s Salt Creek Plaza shopping center weren’t on record with the state as being in the town’s jurisdiction: Hawthorne Drive, Willow Street and Chestnut Street.

They are now, and they’re the top three priorities for 2016.

Other priorities in the top 10 include sections of Main Street, Snyder Road, Washington Street, Mound Street, Salt Creek Road, Greasy Creek Road and Old School Way.

The town and county also can apply for more grant money from the state next year even if they are awarded money this year, but it’s not likely to be as much, Cassiday said.

County's 2016 paving plan

Regardless of what happens with INDOT grant money, the Brown County Highway Department expects to pave sections of 10 roads yet this year with money already in its budget:

  • Spearsville Road from State Road 135 to Bittersweet Road (2.75 miles)
  • Railroad Road from State Road 135 to Oak Ridge Road (2 miles)
  • Chickadee Drive (0.55 mile)
  • Cardinal Drive (0.15 mile)
  • West Robertson Road (1 mile)
  • Horseshoe Road from Hornettown Road to the Johnson County line (0.5 mile)
  • Creamer Road from Greasy Creek to North Drive (1.2 miles)
  • Mt. Zion Road (0.84 mile)
  • Hassettown Road from Short Chute Road to the Morgan County line (0.28 mile)
  • Helmsburg School Road (0.64 miles)

Work on those 10.26 miles is estimated to cost $1 million, said Superintendent Mike Magner.

When paving will be done hasn’t been determined yet. Bids are being collected now.

Take a look at Brown County’s full road asset inventory below:

Brown County’s INDOT grant applications:

Nashville’s road asset inventory and future paving plans:

Author photo
Sara Clifford has been raising a family in Brown County since 2005 and leading the Brown County Democrat since late 2009. In addition to editor, she is the beat reporter for town government and writes columns, features and general news stories.