INDOT to take on winter-damaged roads

2014-05-15T16:30:00Z 2014-05-16T08:03:08Z INDOT to take on winter-damaged roadsBy Keith Benman, (219) 933-3326

PORTAGE | The Indiana Department of Transportation plans a patching and repair blitz in Northwest Indiana to rehabilitate sections of roads "blown up" by this winter's severe weather.

"This winter has shown us every weakness we have in the system and we will find a way to improve all of those," said INDOT LaPorte District Deputy Commissioner Bob Alderman on Thursday.

A project to repave U.S. 20 from the LaPorte County line to Interstate 94 in Porter, a distance of more than 10 miles, has been moved up on INDOT's schedule to this summer from its original start date in 2015, Alderman told the regular meeting of the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission in Portage. It has an estimated $6 million price tag.

The two contracts for the repair blitz, one for the northern portion of INDOT's Northwest Indiana district and one for the south, will be let for bid this month, Alderman said. The northern contract will be for approximately $2 million and the southern for about $1.5 million.

Those contracts will include projects ranging from patching and repairing a single city block in some areas to a mile of road in others, Alderman said. Ind. 49 from U.S. 30 up to the Indiana Toll Road in Porter County will get a lot of attention as it was one of the main arterials suffering the worst damage in winter, he said.

A project to repave pot-hole infested Cline Avenue north of the Borman Expressway is already underway on schedule as planned previously.

State Rep. Ed Soliday, R-Valparaiso, wanted to know what will happen if the U.S. Highway Trust Fund is not replenished by the U.S. Congress this summer, when it is projected to run out of money.

NIRPC Transportation Planner Gary Evers said NIRPC has funds in place to operate for about a year.

"Where the harm will occur is on construction projects, because everything will just stop," Evers said. "Everything will just stop."

The NIRPC executive board also approved a two-year work plan that shows the agency will have less money to work with in the future. The plan projects a $3.6 million budget for the agency next year, but a drop to $3.14 million in 2016.

The executive board also approved putting out a request for proposals for a feasibility study of allowing bicycles onto South Shore trains. The $240,000 study will be funded by the Federal Transit Administration and the South Shore operator Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District.

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