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June 21, 2013

Commissioners commit $2.4 million to heavy-haul road

New road will connect port directly to River Ridge

JEFFERSONVILLE —

The Clark County Commissioners unanimously approved a motion to commit $2.4 million toward the construction of a new heavy-haul road connecting the Port of indiana — Jeffersonville to the River Ridge Commerce Center. 

Of the $2.4 million committed, $2 million comes in the form of credits the county received in exchange for taking over 18 miles of roads and bridges from the Indiana Department of Transportation last year. INDOT allowed the commissioners to change the allocation of the funds from the proposed road connecting River Ridge to Clark County Regional Airport, Commissioners President Jack Coffman explained, as the heavy-haul road is considered a top priority of numerous top state officials and agencies. 

At the outset of the meeting, several officials spoke in support of the new road, including One Southern Indiana President and CEO Wendy Dant Chesser, Port of Indiana — Jeffersonville Director Scott Stewart and Pam Fisher, the director of regulatory affairs with the Indiana Economic Development Corporation. 

The county’s $2.4 million contribution will also include $250,000 contributed by the Clark County Redevelopment Commission, which approved the spending at another meeting Thursday. The remaining $150,000 must be paid over the next three years. Coffman said the remaining cost will likely be paid out of the county’s highway fund.

The $2.4 million is the county’s contribution to a total of $11 million needed from local sources for the project as part of a 50-50 split with the state government. The Port of Indiana — Jeffersonville, the River Ridge Development Authority and the city of Jeffersonville will supply the rest of the funds as part of a deal brokered between the entities. The financial obligations of the other three local parties involved in the project were not immediately made available to the public. 

“It is probably going to be one of the most significant decisions that we make in all four years of this term,” said Commissioner Rick Stephenson, “because of the simple fact that the state of Indiana [is behind it], the governor’s behind it, the secretary of commerce is behind it [and] the secretary of transportation’s behind it. If you’ve got the state behind you that much and you’ve got the entities on board too - we don’t want to be the only cog that’s not involved.”

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