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11/14/2017 10:10:00 AM
City of Washington keeps pushing for Business 50 project

Mike Grant, Washington Times Herald Staff Writer

The Washington City Council and Board of Public Works have approved contracts and grant applications to hopefully get the city and state off of square one to update and eventually turn National Highway or Business 50 through Washington over to the city.

"As everyone knows it is in terrible, terrible shape and they have always wanted the city to take it over," said Mayor Joe Wellman. "We've been reluctant to do that."

About three weeks ago, Indiana Department of Transportation made its latest offer to the city. The offer is one the city couldn't accept but could make a counter offer on. 

"The last offer, the taxpayers would have had to pick up a huge portion of the cost," said Wellman. "We are preparing a counter that includes the council authorizing me to continue negotiations with the state and allow me to apply for federal funding to pay for the biggest chunk to do that."

The city intends to seek a federal highway grant to rebuild the section of National Highway that stretches from State Street to Southeast Third. The project cost would be around $21 million that would be spread over four or five years. The city's part of that project would be about 20 percent of the total.

"That is the biggest, most expensive piece," said Wellman. "The entire offer with the state would be for all of the road from city limit to city limit. The far east end would be some milling and paving. The same with the far west end."

The middle section though, would require a lot of work.

"A big part of our project is to not only repave it, but also add new sidewalks, curbs, bike path, a multi-use trail, new street lighting and upgrade the utilities under the street," he said.

The Board of Public works has authorized the Wellman to work with an engineering firm to put together the proposal for federal projects that is due on Nov. 22.

The Wellman points out even if the project gets the federal backing, it could take four or five years to complete. Still he feels the project has a chance.

"If they approve what we are looking at, I feel good about it," he said. "Most of our money would go to upgrading our own utilities. We'd bury electric, bury conduit for fiber and work with Vectren to get new gas lines in place."

The city has approved a $2,000 appropriation for a contract with VS Engineering to help prepare the proposal.

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Editor, John C. DePrez Jr.; Executive Editor, Carol Rogers; Publishers: IBRC and IAR

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