Jun. 11—PENDLETON — The Pendleton Town Council on Thursday unanimously approved a contract with CDM Smith that will allow the start of the design process for improvements on Indiana 67 near Pendleton Heights High School.
The $3.5 million project, which is expected to include sidewalks, medians and lighting for safety from Angle Road to Water Street, is the town's part of the development of a four-lane highway by the Indiana Department of Transportation. The cost for design, according to CDM Smith's estimate, would be more than $409,000.
But Town Manager Scott Reske said even with a design in place, there is no guarantee the project will happen unless the federal government comes through with most of the funding. If it does not, he said, the project would be scaled back to $500,000, which would cover the cost of a median.
"INDOT allows locals to add things to their projects. We're just piggybacking off their major construction," he said.
Construction on the intersection, believed to usher through the second-highest volume of traffic in the county, would be expected to start in 2023, but Reske said he expects up to two years in possible delays before completion.
Even so, he recommended the town try to complete as much as they can because INDOT would pay for the right-of-way but might back out of doing so if they suspect any hesitancy on the part of the town.
"It would be to our advantage to move forward," he said. "We'll have to make some hard decisions by July of this year. We can't be timid about this."
Reske said modernizing that intersection is important because the town's population is projected to grow exponentially as the population from Indianapolis pushes northward.
"If we don't have the stuff in place, that area will be a bottleneck," he said. "If we continue to allow left-hand turns, it will jam things up as soon as the population increases."
There was a time South Madison Community School officials wanted a bridge or tunnel for the safety of students crossing the road, but there no longer seems to be momentum for that, Reske said. A tunnel, he added, would cost $1 million, and a bridge would cost about $5 million.
Pendleton Police Chief Marc Farrer said he opposed both a bridge and a tunnel, believing that neither would enhance safety.
Follow Rebecca R. Bibbs on Twitter at @RebeccaB_THB, or call 765-640-4883.