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Crawford Council gives support for bridge

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October 31, 2007
The Crawford County Council Thursday morning gave its blessing to the Milltown bridge project proposed at last month's county commissioners' meeting.

The council voted 6-0 (Councilman Jim Taylor was absent) to offer financial support, with the specifics to come later, to the project, which the commissioners are expected to take the first step on at a Jan. 15 special meeting.

The project would replace the single-lane structure joining the Crawford and Harrison County sides of Milltown at Blue River with a 29-foot-wide, two-lane bridge that would feature a highway weight limit and include a sidewalk. The bridge would be located just upstream or downstream from the current structure.

Asked by the council if Milltown officials and residents are in agreement with the location, considering they had wanted the bridge built several yards upstream at the site of an old railroad bridge and out of the flood plain, District 1 Commissioner Larry Bye, who represents the Crawford County side of Milltown, said they are.

"Milltown has really gotten on board with this," he said. "Originally, they would have liked to have had it at the old railroad pier, but they have really gotten on board with it."

The new bridge would cost about $1.7 million, with Harrison and Crawford officials already having agreed to split the costs 60/40, respectively, as has been tradition on joint bridge projects. That would put Crawford's responsibility at about $672,000 and Harrison's at just more than $1 million. That's considerably less than the $5 million a structure at the railroad bridge site would cost, even with federal aid having been awarded to that project.

Bye said the commissioners want to get started on the project quickly so that permits can be acquired in time for a fall bid letting. That, he said, would allow for construction, expected to take about eight or nine months, to be done in 2009.

"So, there's a possibility of the need of some funds at the end of this year?" Council President Jerry Brewer asked.

"Could be," Bye answered.

However, the majority of funds likely wouldn't be needed until the project is completed, allowing the county time to secure the monies, Brewer said. One possibility would be to use gaming revenue the county receives from Harrison County that is currently used for paving, he said. Those dollars, Brewer noted, then could be paid back with gaming revenue the county receives from Orange County, which hasn't been allocated.

"This project has been going on for what, six or seven years? It's time to move forward with it," Bye said prior to the council's vote.

Following the vote, Brewer praised Crawford and Harrison counties for working together and Crawford for possibly using gaming, not tax, dollars.

Since the bridge is in Crawford County's inventory, the Crawford County commissioners must take the first step on the project, which they are expected to do at their special meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 15, at 4 p.m. at the Crawford County Judicial Complex at English. The Harrison County commissioners are expected to discuss the project at their regular meeting on Jan. 22.

In other matters, the council:

•Learned from District 3 Commissioner Jim Schultz that bids should be let for the Alton bridge rehabilitation project in the spring. He reminded them that the county's portion of the cost is $80,000, which was already approved by the council.

•Were told by District 2 Commissioners Randy Gilmore that the commissioners plan on requesting that federal aid awarded to the county for a bridge at the old railroad bridge site be transferred to the Overhead Bridge Road bridge project near Taswell.

•Voted 6-0 to reappoint Don DuBois to a two-year term to the Crawford County Tourism Board.

•Voted 6-0 to move $5,000 from insurance to custodian to pay for additional hours for a part-time custodian. The council will later repay the $5,000 to insurance from funds the jail receives for housing out-of-county inmates.

•Voted 6-0 to create a fund to accept Homestead Credit rebate dollars from the state that will be distributed to those who pay property taxes in the county.

The council also approved not giving the rebates to those who are delinquent on their taxes.

Commissioners name Bye president

Both the Crawford County Council and the Crawford County Board of Commissioners Thursday morning reorganized for 2008.

The seven-member council will have the same look, as Jerry Brewer and Daniel Crecelius were again voted president and vice president, respectively.

The council will continue to meet on the second Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. at the Crawford County Judicial Complex at English.

The three-member board of commissioners, however, elected a new president, choosing District 1 Commissioner Larry Bye. He replaces District 2 Commissioner Randy Gilmore. Bye abstained from the 2-0 vote.

The commissioners will again meet on the last Thursday of the month at 6:30 p.m. at the Crawford County Judicial Complex.

In other business, Bye, as president, signed an award letter for a Juvenile Accountability Block Grant. The grant, administered by Hoosier Hills PACT, requires no matching funds from the county and has been awarded previously.

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