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October 23, 2013

Utica residents get a peek at bridge plans

Roundabouts, sound barriers among residents' main concerns

UTICA — Southern Indiana residents got a peek on Tuesday at the bridge and highway that will soon land in their backyard.

Officials with the Ohio River Bridges Project brought a host of renderings to the John Nobel Woods Utica Community Center, with new aesthetic enhancements and the most updated version of the plan for the east-end bridge.

A call was made to enhance the aesthetics of the plans on the Indiana side of the bridges project after designs were initially revealed in April.

Jeffersonville Redevelopment Director Rob Waiz was a part of the effort to improve the look of both the downtown portion and the east-end portion of the project in Indiana.

An agreement was reached between the Indiana Department of Transportation and Jeffersonville to share the cost of aesthetic upgrades. The agreement splits the cost of the upgrades 80 percent to 20 percent, with the state covering the larger portion of the costs, up to $8 million. When Jeffersonville’s costs are added in, it totals nearly the same amount set aside in Kentucky for aesthetic upgrades — $10 million.

Among the changes to the project on display in Utica were monument sides in the center of the roundabouts, rail fencing that will line the highway instead of chain-link fencing originally planned and facade upgrades to the overpasses on the east-end.

Waiz said he is happy with the effort INDOT has made to work with the city in making the upgrades, but is still hoping that another change or two is implemented. The main change he would like to see would be to move a maintenance facility, currently set to be constructed near the new Salem Road interchange — which will be the first exit on the Indiana side of the Ohio River in the east end— moved into River Ridge Commerce Center.

“You’ve got one chance to do it right,” Waiz said. “You’re going to be looking at it for the next 50 to 60 years. It’s just very important that we get everybody’s feedback on this project.”

While most of the nearby residents were pleased with the look of the project, two major concerns stood out.

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