Knox County will move forward yet this year with the completion of its ongoing effort to resurface all of Old U.S. 41.
County commissioner Kellie Streeter and highway superintendent Benji Boyd on Tuesday went before members of the county council asking for additional funding to make sure the county’s latest project funded through the state’s Community Crossings Matching Grant Program can move forward in 2021, a move to avoid ever-increasing construction costs.
The spring thaw wreaked havoc — more so than usual — on county roads, and as such, Boyd is about $150,000 short on the necessary $330,000 match for the $1 million received in CCMG funds.
“It’s so hard to budget for CCMG,” Boyd told the council. “You never know what you’re going to get from year to year. Sometimes you get nothing. This time, we got the full $1 million.”
The county last month was awarded the $1 million, funds that will be spent repaving five sections of road, specifically two sections of Old U.S. 41 that will now complete the repaving of the entirety of Old U.S. 41.
Those sections are Old U.S. 41 South between U.S. 41 and Brookhaven Road as well as Old U.S. 41 North just north of Oaktown between U.S. 41 and the Sullivan County line.
Also included in the CCMG application this time was Old Wheatland Road between Indiana 550 and Vincennes, Newell Road between Old Wheatland and Old Bruceville roads and Memering Road between Indiana 67 and Mine Road.
Being short on the match, Boyd told the commissioners during their meeting early this month that he could hold off until next year, but with construction costs rising post-pandemic, it’s probable — if not likely — that the county wouldn’t be able to get it all done.
Streeter, too, told the county council that she hoped to bid the project “sooner rather than later.”
“But that leads us back to where we (draw) the funds from for the match,” she said.
Council members seemingly had no issue with the request for the additional appropriation. Council president Bob Lechner pointed out that a little gets the county quite a lot.
“Another $150,000 is going to get us $1.3 million (in work),” he said.
And while nothing official — on paper — was before the council for consideration, they opted to offer a vote on a “gentleman’s agreement” to allow Boyd to go ahead and bid the project this year. They will finalize the request later.
Boyd told the council, with its blessing in hand, he can likely award a contract in July and see the work done before the end of 2021.
It’s possible, too, the commissioners have pointed out previously, that this $150,000 could come out of the county’s share of funds from the American Rescue Plan.
While exact figures are still somewhat up in the air, the county is hopeful for as much as $4 million, the first allotment of which could arrive next month.
The rules that govern the expenditure of this money, too, are still somewhat fluid, but the commissioners believe it can be spent, per the advice of county attorney Andrew Porter, to close funding gaps resulting from the pandemic; specifically, any fund that received less revenue in 2020 as a result of COVID-19 could be eligible.
One that has taken a significant hit so far has been the Motor Vehicle Highway Fund, which is funded at the gas pumps. When Hoosiers stopped traveling amid the Stay at Home order, the county’s share of that revenue dropped immediately.
It’s from that fund Boyd would likely have drawn the necessary CCMG match.