State Road 44 through Franklin could be rebuilt with new pavement and new sidewalks about two years earlier once the state turns over ownership of the highway.
The state will give Franklin $12.8 million and turn over ownership of the road from State Road 144 to Interstate 65, meaning the city would be responsible for all maintenance, such as plowing snow and fixing potholes in the future. That money will allow the city to replace pavement, build new sidewalks, install streetlights and set traffic rules, such as banning semi-truck traffic through downtown on 44.
The state had originally planned to rebuild State Road 44 in 2017. But now reconstruction by the city could start as soon as 2015.
Franklin officials have been trying to negotiate the transfer with the state since May 2012, Mayor Joe McGuinness said.
The deal will accelerate the city’s effort to fix the severely cracked, pitted and broken Jefferson Street east of U.S. 31 as well as allow the city to design the project in several small phases so residents and business owners along the road aren’t affected by construction for long periods of time, McGuinness said.
McGuinness called State Road 44 the top priority for roadwork in the city.
“This is by far the worst road in the town and it’s the one road in town we can’t touch,” he said.