COUNTY NEWS: Yellowwood road project; snow clearing costs

Second phase of Yellowwood project to be put up for bid

The Indiana Department of Transportation will put Phase Two of the Yellowwood Road project up for bid Thursday, Jan. 18, Brown County Highway Superintendent Mike Magner told the county commissioners.

In Phase Two, likely to start in the spring, crews will work on the northern section of Yellowwood Lake Road, the access road to Yellowwood State Forest. Work will take place along 2.9 miles along Yellowwood Lake Road from the lake parking lot to Lanam Ridge Road.

The plan had been to turn the gravel road into a hard surface, but residents rejected that plan and the state agreed to keep it gravel about three years ago. INDOT does plan to “realign” the road in places to move it away from the creek.

This phase will include paving the section of Yellowwood Road right off State Road 46 West that was skipped last time, Magner said.

Phase one of the project included realigning and widening Yellowwood Road in places and putting in a new bridge over Salt Creek that is now open.

INDOT and the Indiana Department of Transportation are leading this project with the intent of providing easier access to Yellowwood State Forest. The project has been talked about for more than 30 years.

How much does it cost to clear snow?

In the final two-week pay period at the end of 2017, the Brown County Highway Department saw an additional $50,000 to $55,000 added to its expenses just from clearing snow from roads.

Highway Superintendent Mike Magner reported at the Jan. 3 Brown County Commissioners meeting that the additional costs were due to overtime, salt, sand, fuel and other minor repairs on the department’s trucks.

“It adds up quick. Luckily, we had money budgeted,” Magner said. “We actually ended up in the black, in the positive for last year on our snow and ice budget. That’s a good thing.”

Highway department staff were out working 13 of the 14 days in the pay period, including Christmas morning, to keep roads clear.

The road get just as slick, or even slicker, after a little amount of snow than it can during a heavy snow, especially in areas with high amounts of traffic, like in the Sweetwater area, Magner said.

“You can get a little quarter-inch skid of snow and they’ll beat it into a sheet of ice in half an hour. Unfortunately, people don’t seem to want to slow down,” he said. “We can’t control that. We do the best we can to make it safe for everybody, but you still have to drive with some common sense.”

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Suzannah Couch grew up in Brown County, reading the Brown County Democrat. A 2013 Franklin College graduate, she covers business, cops/courts, education and arts/entertainment.