White River Township residents advocate for concrete street repairs

Residents of a subdivision in White River Township raised concerns about the collapse of concrete streets in their neighborhood at a county commissioner’s meeting on Monday.

Residents of the Willow Lakes Subdivision, a neighborhood built in the 1980s and 1990s located northwest of State Route 135 and Stones Crossing Road, have repeatedly said that the concrete streets in their neighborhoods are crumbling and crumbling. worsen. They have successfully argued for some repairs, but say more work is needed.

They signed up for the commissioner’s agenda to get answers on how and when their streets would be repaired. They outlined their grievances to the commissioners in a letter from the neighborhood homeowners association ahead of the meeting.

Residents had questions about two road projects that were due to be completed last year. In August 2021, residents were notified that the county had received funding to repair portions of Willow Street, Woods Court, and Willow Court in the neighborhood through the state’s Community Crossings Matching Grants program. The Willow Street project has been completed, but residents say repairs to Woods Court and Willow Court have not.

Bruce Bultman, a Willow Lakes resident and homeowners association adviser, told commissioners crews began working on those streets after they sent the letter, which The Daily Journal reported last week. County Highway Manager Luke Mastin said crews have returned to begin work in those areas now because they are waiting for warmer temperatures to complete paving in cul-de-sacs.

Willow Lakes residents also asked about additional funding sources outside of community crossings.

County officials have been looking at various sources to fund roadwork, as the collective price for roadwork over the next five years is approximately $390 million. One of these sources of funding is a possible local income tax which is the subject of discussions between the commissioners and the county council. Discussions are ongoing, West said.

Officials are struggling to come up with money for concrete streets, as most of the county’s road spending is for smaller amounts for annual maintenance, rather than larger capital projects across the county. rebuilding miles of concrete streets, Mastin said. The average bid price for street reconstruction is approximately $1.6 million per mile and the annual maintenance program is approximately $3 million. So if the county put the entire annual fund into concrete streets, officials would be able to rebuild less than two miles a year, Mastin said.

Of the roughly 31.8 miles of concrete neighborhood streets, about 21.7 miles are rated poorest in the county’s road rating system. Those streets would cost more than $35 million to repair, he said.

The highway department has tried to fit in with smaller-scale projects to fix some of the worst roads in Willow Lakes, hoping to receive matching funds from the state. However, those repairs still take up part of the annual maintenance schedule and put the county behind with maintenance on other streets, including the county’s main roads, Mastin said.

Commissioners Ron West and Kevin Walls told residents they had raised the issue of funding street repairs with the county council. Talks are ongoing, so there is no immediate response available. Officials know the problem is compounded by the construction of Interstate 69, which is tying up other funding, they said.

Residents also had questions about a $5 million bond that they said would be reissued. The issue of bail dates back to a June 2019 meeting of commissioners, where a county attorney read a letter on West’s behalf saying repairs to Willow Lakes streets were overdue and recommended when bail for Whiteland Road was raised. ended in December 2020, a new one will be issued to pay for repairs, the letter says. West represents the northern third of the county, including residents of Willow Lakes.

Members of the owners’ association then attended a commissioner’s meeting in January 2021, where they called for the bond to be reissued. On Monday, West told residents he had always been in favor of reissuing the bond, for general roadwork purposes, not just Willow Lakes streets, he said. No action has been initiated or taken on the reissue of the bond.

Willow Lakes resident Craig Thompson told commissioners he was concerned about how commissioners had handled complaints from residents. After years of raising concerns, he’s tired of hearing people talk about them with no progress being made, Thompson said.

With current funding constraints and uncertainties, commissioners can’t do much more right now, said County Commissioner Brian Baird. Residents should know that the council is aware of the needs in Willow Lakes and other areas of the county. Commissioners must balance the needs of more than 160,000 residents, Baird said.

“Give us some consideration as we try to do what we can do for the best of the whole county,” Baird said. “We are not going to do this by being in a constant hurry, it does not work. I would just like to ask that you continue to communicate with us as other people, other additions, other HOAs do, and we will do our best to move forward.

In other cases, commissioners approved an order authorizing $1.5 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act, or ARPA, funds for subdivision road improvements. The county council approved the credit last month.

ARPA is a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 stimulus package that has provided direct relief to Americans and distributed billions to states to respond to the pandemic and to give to cities, towns and counties to respond to the pandemic. Indiana officials distributed $1.28 billion to communities, including about $30.7 million for Johnson County.

The $1.5 million will be used to repair streets in neighborhoods located primarily outside the Township of White River. The move was made because most of the county’s road budget is typically spent in White River Township, Walls told the county council last month.

While there is a need for concrete street repairs in the township, based on highway department road assessments, rural subdivisions need work more immediately, Mastin said last month.

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