County Road Project Streamlined
Right-of-Way Acquisition Process Smoothed by Resolution
Tuesday – August 25, 2015
BY RICK BANNAN
The Huntington County Commissioners approved a resolution streamlining the process of acquiring right-of-way of properties along the proposed Huntington County Road 900 North/Lafayette Center Road project during their meeting Monday.
The resolution will allow for one of the commissioners to sign off on any property acquisition that needs to take place in order to have the proposed state-funded, $30 million road reconstruction near Roanoke move smoothly.
Huntington County Commissioner Tom Wall said that without the resolution a two-thirds majority vote by all three commissioners would be necessary to approve any land transfer. He said that with the resolution the process of having the project move forward will not come to a halt due to the need to convene for a special session. Representatives of Indianapolis-based Yasmin L. Stump law firm came to the commissioners as legal counsel regarding the resolution. Wall said in an interview that the firm will work, with landowners directly to discuss securing tights of way. The firm will send recommendations for action to Huntington County Attorney Robert Garrett who will then offer his own counsel to the commissioners on what course of action should be taken to continue with the project.
The project, which has been in the land acquisition phase of development as of late, will involve reworking a stretch of the road between U.S. 24 and the Fort Wayne General Motors plant, increasing lanes and placing a bridge over railroad tracks to help with traffic.
Studies conducted of the roadway reported that the stretch is unfit to handle the volume of traffic it receives, with projections expecting the traffic will double in 20 years.
Archaeological and environmental studies were also conducted to assess the project’s feasibility. Butler, Fairman and Seufert environmental specialist Ryan Scott said during a public hearing on the project in February that the studies showed no major environmental impact or archaeological issues.
In a July meeting USI Consultants Executive Vice President Philip Beer said that the state-funded budget of $30 million was still in sight of being maintained, though he worried about rising construction costs. He had stressed that the target budget was a priority.
Wall said in the Monday meeting that the county’s plan is to have the project out for bid in November, adding the resolution will help to meet that timeframe.
According to past statements by the commissioners, USI, and others involved, the end of November date is right on schedule for a completed project by 2018.