VALPARAISO | The state of plans to improve Silhavy Road from LaPorte Avenue to Evans Avenue could be decided at Valparaiso's Redevelopment Commission meeting in May.
The project received a federal Surface Transportation Program grant in 2011, and it is set to be done in early 2015, but a new state law could affect the timing and payment method for the project.
City Engineering Director Tim Burkman said the federal funding was switched to the Burlington Beach Road improvements -- deemed more important because of the St. Mary health center construction and plans for a hospital at Burlington Beach and Ind. 49.
When Burlington Beach residents objected to the widening of the road to three lanes from Calumet Avenue to Ind. 49, that project was scaled back. The federal funding was then returned to the Silhavy improvements.
The total estimated cost for reconstructing Silhavy is $3.8 million, of which federal funds will pay $2.6 million. Burkman said for the project to meet all the federal requirements in time for a spring 2015 construction start, a lot has to be done.
One way to speed up the project would be to fund it locally, which a new state law might make possible. Burkman said a law awaiting the governor's signature would allow the city to trade the federal dollars to the state for 75 cents on the dollar. While it would leave the city with less money for the project, not having to follow the more complicated federal process could save money to make up for it.
"This is still an important corridor for us," he said.
Before the city can hire an engineering consultant to design the improvements, the commission will have to put the funding into this year's budget. Initial estimates are that about $120,000 will be needed this year and the remaining local share of $1.16 million will have to be budgeted in 2014 and 2015.
In a proposal pulled from the agenda of the April commission meeting, a total of $126,000 was identified as possibly being pulled or deferred from several other projects or obtained from savings from projects that were done for less than was budgeted.