A long-awaited facelift of Elkhorn Road will get under way this summer as originally scheduled.
County highway superintendent Benji Boyd on Monday took before the county commissioners an amendment to their contract with the Indiana Department of Transportation, one that actually allocates more money to the overall project.
Right of way acquisition has cost more, Boyd explained. Estimates called for just over $68,000, but the actual cost has been more than $104,000, commissioners learned.
But INDOT, according to the contract amendment, will pick up the additional cost.
“It was a little bit more, but they’ve picked that up,” Boyd explained.
In March of 2018, the county was awarded $3.2 million in Federal Highway Administration construction funds, which are administered through INDOT, to tackle improvements on Elkhorn Road, ones expected to make the area much safer for all the industrial traffic coming from the U.S. 41 Industrial Park, which houses Farbest Foods Inc. and Futaba Indiana of America, among others.
The project will essentially be a total rebuild of the portion of the road from U.S. 41 to the CSX Railroad crossing. It will be widened, visibility improved, and will include a major upgrade to the intersection with Old Decker Road.
The project includes some minor work by the railroad as well, including upgrades to pavement markings, signage and lighting.
Major improvements have been discussed for years because Elkhorn Road wasn’t built to handle all the traffic that now comes in and out of the industrial park. The problem, primarily, is with truck traffic and motorists leaving the industrial park by way of Elkhorn and then crossing the median to travel south on U.S. 41.
The intersection wasn’t designed for those kinds of maneuvers; the grade is inadequate and visibility is poor, officials say.
An INDOT study also found that there was a likelihood of frequent accidents at the intersection and motorists traveling through the area are at greater risk.
But long ago county officials realized they couldn’t alone fund what needed to be done, so the commissioners applied for funding as part of INDOT’s 2022 Call for Projects.
Members of the Knox County Development Corp. back then threw their support behind the county’s efforts, and commission president Kellie Streeter indicated this week that those conversations have been ongoing.
It’s possible, she said Monday, that the KCDC could provide some funding for the county’s 20% match.
Boyd said he expects the contract to be let on July 11. Work typically then begins about two months later.
He said he expects “a lot of activity” on this project next year.