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Bridges Project

May 29, 2014

It's New Middle Road or bust for Jeffersonville

City says it won’t fund heavy haul corridor if roads don’t connect

JEFFERSONVILLE — Several entities partnered to fund the construction of a heavy haul corridor from the River Ridge Commerce Center to the Port of Indiana-Jeffersonville, but now the city of Jeffersonville’s involvement is in doubt.

The Jeffersonville Redevelopment Commission voted unanimously Thursday to approve about $1.6 million in TIF claims, but that was after it excluded about $866,000 from the $2.5 million it was initially asked to pay.

That money was supposed to be the first of three installments the commission had planned to pay for its part of the heavy haul corridor, a $22.5 million project that also has financial commitments from the port, River Ridge and Clark County. The commission declined to make that payment after Redevelopment Director Rob Waiz told them there’s a possibility the route won’t connect to New Middle Road because of environmental concerns.

“We’ve said all along that we wanted to participate in this as long as we saw the direct benefit to the city of Jeff, and that was if the route came to New Middle Road,” said Jeffersonville Mayor Mike Moore, who is a member of the commission. “I think all of the parties understood that.”

River Ridge Director of Finance and Marketing Paul Wheatley acknowledged that a connection to New Middle Road is called for in the interlocal agreement to build the corridor, but said that a route for the corridor has yet to be finalized.

“It’s currently under design, and they are going to have to go through environmental and historical studies,” Wheatley said.

Wheatley said he still believes the heavy haul corridor will reach New Middle Road.

“I feel fairly confident that we will find a route that will meet all of the parties’ expectations as directed by the interlocal agreement,” Wheatley said.

Indiana Department of Transportation Project Manager Tim Meunch declined to provide an exact time frame for when the design for the heavy haul corridor will be finalized, but hopes it will be soon.

“We’re hoping the sooner the better,” Meunch said. “We need to get moving, because our ultimate goal is to have this connected up with the new [Interstate] 265 by the end of 2016.”

Commissioners President Jack Coffman said he was uncertain what would be the consequences of Jeffersonville withdrawing its support from the project, but speculated that the remaining partners could scale back the scope of the project to account for the reduction in funds.

“We could scale it back,” he said.

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