Patchwork to affect U.S. 231 traffic north of Jasper

By CANDY NEAL 
cneal@dcherald.com

The Next Level sign on U.S. 231 north of Northwood Avenue signals upcoming patchwork a state-hired contractor is expected to start on U.S. 231 north of Jasper in the next two weeks.

But the paving of U.S. 231 from Jasper to Loogootee, which was supposed to start this year, has been pushed to next year.

“This project for 231 was bundled with a project for U.S. 50 between Loogootee and Shoals. The contractor was given a longer amount of time to get the work done,” said Jason Tiller, communications director for the Indiana Department of Transportation’s Southwest District. “They are choosing to do it all at once.”

Because of the bundling, the project’s time of completion was extended to the latest time allowed on what would have been the later project: next fall.

“The contractor is given a start date and end date. So long as they get the work done between that start and end date, we don’t provide them any requirements on how they need to schedule their people,” Tiller said. “So this project, by being bundled with the U.S. 50 project, pushed the end date out until next fall.”

Although the paving is delayed, Tiller assured that the project will be done.

“We’ve had several people call us about that whole stretch of 231 from Loogootee to Jasper, but in particular, from Loogootee to Haysville,” he said. “The Next Level sign is there to identify those projects.”

Next Level Roads is part of Gov. Eric Holcomb’s multi-faceted Next Level Initiative. In July 2017, the governor announced plans for the first five years of a 20-year-plan for road improvements throughout the state. At that time, 25 projects in Dubois County totaling an estimated $14,576,430 were included on the plan, including paving a portion of U.S. 231 north of Jasper this year. For Martin County, 18 projects $8,281,238 were outlined in the plan; that included U.S. 231 north to Loogootee and U.S. 50 east to Shoals.

The initiative is expected to invest an estimated $4.7 billion in projects over the next five years, including resurfacing nearly 10,000 lane miles of pavement and repairing or replacing approximately 1,300 bridges. After that, the initiative provides about $342 million annually to support Indiana cities, towns and counties for local road projects by 2024.

The contractor of the U.S. 231 and U.S. 50 projects will patch holes and bad spots along the roads ahead of next year’s paving. “We’re expecting that to begin in the next couple of weeks, subject to weather conditions,” Tiller said.

That work had to be negotiated by INDOT.

“Initially, they were not going to do the patching this year,” Tiller said. “However we discussed it with them, and told them that was something that needed to happen this year. We were able to convince them to do the patchwork this year.”

During the patchwork, drivers can expect lane restrictions and flaggers directing traffic around construction crews. This will likely continue until the end of construction season: sometime in late November, as the weather allows.

“It will settle over the winter,” Tiller said. “And next spring they will put the asphalt down.”




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