March 09, 2016The Indiana Department of Transportation crew working out of Grantsburg is now reporting to Birdseye.
Indiana is divided into six INDOT districts, with Crawford, Orange, Dubois and Perry counties falling under the Southwest Vincennes District. With one central location in Vincennes, the southwest district is made up of five sub-districts, which include Lynton, Evansville, Tell City, Vincennes and Paoli.
"Each of those sub-districts have four or five sub units, and Grantsburg and Birdseye both are part of the Tell City sub-district," Jason Tiller, INDOT media relations director for the southwest district, said. "The purpose of having a unit from those sub-districts is that we have ample coverage for snow routes and any type of maintenance that needs to be done to our state roadways. Basically, what it boils down to is there is always a unit or a sub for every area."
Grantsburg, being one of five sub units of the Vincennes District, was merged with the Birdseye sub unit Feb. 1 and will now only operate as a seasonal site.
Crawford County District 1 Commissioner Daniel Crecelius said he and the other commissioners had heard rumors of the Grantsburg sub unit closing, which quickly turned to fact.
"As commissioners, we got a little bit concerned," he said. "It's very convenient for us to work with those guys, and they're very helpful and then, of course, those were jobs here in the county, and that means a little bit, too. We tried to postpone it and, really, stop it, but there wasn't much we could do."
Crecelius, along with the other commissioners, sent a letter to INDOT stating their disapproval. Upon INDOT receiving the letter, the commissioners were invited to a meeting in Perry County.
"More or less, it was a meeting to tell us that our services were not going to change, the snow routes were going to continue to be the same, and I said, 'Well, if you can do that, that'll be fine, but we still hate to lose the people at the facility,' " he said. "I just hate to lose something like that. It's a service that we have for the county."
Tiller said the reasoning behind the merge was because INDOT didn't really have a need for Grantsburg to be a full-time site.
"The only thing it was really being used for was snow routes, and it will continue to be used for snow routes, but it didn't make sense to have four or five guys working out of that building when they are reporting to another building anyway," he said.
"We're still going to store stuff there, we're still going to have salt there, we're still occasionally going to be working out of there, it's going to be a seasonal site, but as far as level of service, nothing will change," he continued. "Basically, what it boils down to is, instead of saying that they work at the Grantsburg unit, they now say that they work at the Birdseye unit."
Crecelius, on the other hand, doesn't understand the issue with keeping workers at the Grantsburg site if the sub unit is going to continue to be used anyway.
Tiller, however, assured service for Crawford County will not be affected by the merge.
"We don't expect the level of service to change for Crawford County. The same unit foreman that was over Grantsburg, he's in charge of the merged unit," he said. "All we basically did is we merged Grantsburg and Birdseye; nobody lost their jobs."