The final two phases of rebuilding a large portion of Main Street are well under way, city engineer John Sprague reported to members of the city’s Redevelopment Commission Thursday morning.
After some delays early on, Sprague said a “large chunk” of right-of-way purchasing is now complete.
“We’re only waiting on three or four parcels,” he told the commission. “We made a lot of good progress in the last month.”
Sprague is hopeful right-of-way acquisition can be complete by this time next month, clearing the way for the removal of some trees through that area — specifically from Jamestown Apartments to out past Main Street’s intersection with Felt King Road — ahead of the protected period for the endangered Indiana bat, which begins in April.
He is still hopeful, he said, to let the project out for bid in April and see work begin shortly thereafter.
One key component of Phase II is the reconfiguration of Main Street’s rather convoluted intersection with Felt King Road as well as outlets onto nearby Ramsey Road and Sievers Road.
After much discussion a year ago — including talks of a possible roundabout — the RDC voted to take Felt King Road to the west and connect it into Ramsey Road at a near 90-degree angle, hence the acquisition of so much permanent right-of-way.
Initially, the project looked to sweep Felt King to the east and through a nearby woods, bringing it to a 90-degree angle into Main Street nearer to Sievers Road.
But the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and the state Department of Natural Resources took note, raising red flags for everything from lost wildlife habitat to needed (and expensive) wetland mitigation.
In the end, they decided taking Felt King to a 90-degree angle with Ramsey was the easiest, safest and best decision.
The city secured a near $4 million grant long ago to cover the cost of Phase II. The RDC is picking up the matching 20%.
Phase III — which takes Main Street improvements all the way out to Clark Middle School at Richard Bauer Drive — will actually be done at the same time, but the RDC is picking up the entire cost.
That part of the project, Sprague said Thursday, is progressing well as it requires very little right-of-way acquisition.
The only permanent acquisition needed is from both the Vincennes Community School Corp. and the Evansville Catholic Diocese, Sprague said, and he doesn’t anticipate any problems.
All other necessary right-of-way, he said, is only temporary.
And in other road-related business, Sprague said he is working with the Vincennes Street and Sanitation Department in that they have struggled to get yellow paint for striping. The product, Sprague explained, is being rationed by distributors, and the city right now can only get about 5 gallons per month.
So he is putting together a larger contract to bid in the hope of securing a larger amount of paint.
Included in that contract, he said, is a restriping of Hart Street, so since the RDC repaved that years ago — and likely will again as early as 2024 — Sprague asked if the commission would consider picking up the cost; he figures the sum will be less than $20,000.
“I think we’d certainly be willing to look at that,” said RDC president Tim Smith.