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Cone zone: Busy street repair season ahead


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Potholes will be filled, cracks will be fixed, and roads will get a new coating of asphalt.

Drivers can expect to see about the same amount of paving and road work going on around the county during this year’s road construction season as last year, except in Franklin, where the city plans to spend about five times more than usual on road work.

Other street departments will spend about the same amount as they have in past years, but Franklin plans to put about $1.6 million into road work after deciding to spend money that hadn’t been spent in past years.

The county, cities and towns are still trying to gauge the amount of damage to roads from winter freezing and thawing and haven’t finalized their lists of projects. But certain roads and streets already top the priority lists, including Hurricane Road in Franklin, the intersection of Smith Valley and Morgantown roads in the Center Grove area and roads in Imperial Hills subdivision in Greenwood.

ROAD WORK PLANS

Spring paving and road repair lists haven’t been finalized, but here are early estimates on how much will be spent and where:

Johnson County

$1.6 million

Spending change: Up about $350,000, due to decreasing loan payments on the Whiteland Road widening project.

Priority project: Intersection of Morgantown and Smith Valley roads.

Franklin

$1.6 million

Spending change: More than five times the normal paving budget of about $300,000.

Priority projects: Hurricane Road, South Street, Jackson Street

Greenwood

$900,000

Spending change: About the same as recent years.

Priority project: Imperial Hills subdivision

The county is increasing its total road maintenance spending to about $1.6 million this year, and Greenwood might spend around $900,000, which is similar to past years.

But Franklin, which usually devotes about $300,000 to road work each year, is planning more repairs in 2013.

Since 2008, the city has budgeted from $40,000 to about $200,000 less than the total amount of tax dollars it has received for roads, Clerk-Treasurer Janet Alexander said. The money that wasn’t spent each year built up to more than $800,000.

City Council President Steve Barnett originally proposed using $1 million in funds from city’s tax-increment financing districts to do extra road repairs this year but found that wouldn’t be necessary, since there was almost that much already available in the road fund.

“I thought we might need help with this, but when I got checking and had seen that there was money there. The money is there just over the last five or six years. We haven’t used it like we should have,” Barnett said.

The city plans to spend $800,000 on paving this year and $500,000 for a reconstruction project on Hurricane Road. Those funds will be in addition to the street department’s annual paving amount of about $250,000 and $80,000 already set aside to repave South Street.

Sections of Jackson, Wayne and Maple streets all could be repaved this year, as well as some streets in the area around Forsythe Street, Franklin street commissioner Ron Collins said.

“You can drop a penny anywhere in this town and there’s probably a street you can work on. I’d like to see it for multiple years in a row,” Collins said.

Johnson County will be able to put about $350,000 more toward road repairs this year, because payments on a loan for the ongoing Whiteland Road expansion project decreased this year, county highway department director Luke Mastin said.

The intersection of Smith Valley and Morgantown roads tops the county’s list, since it hasn’t been repaved since 2001, Mastin said.

But the county is waiting for temperatures to rise and to finish reviewing road conditions in order to finalize a project list, he said. Highway department employees drive all of the county’s roads and rate each on a scale from 1 to 10 based on the amount and severity of damage.

Road reviews have been delayed due to the longer string of cold temperatures compared to 2012, Mastin said. Water freezing in the roadway causes cracks and potholes.

The temperature swings in February and March might have caused additional damage, but the steadily warming weather now is encouraging, Mastin said.

“It seems like we’re going straight from winter to late spring. The freeze/thaw may not be as big of an issue as it could be,” he said.

Greenwood also is finalizing its road ratings and working on a project list, but the Imperial Hills subdivision likely will see more work this year to curbs, deputy mayor Terry McLaughlin said.

The city expects to spend around $900,000 on road work, which is about the same amount as recent years, McLaughlin said.

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