By DL PERRIN
LAGRANGE — At the Monday, April 8 joint meeting of the LaGrange County Council and the LaGrange County Commissioners, the newly formed 200 North road improvement committee presented its new idea.
LaGrange County Highway Superintendent Jeff Brill brought forward a revised estimated bill for correcting the curves and hills on 200 North between 675 West and 450 West.
The original options for upgrades to 200 North between 675 West and 450 West was presented back in 2012. Highway officials intended to level sight-inhibiting hills and straighten out sharp curves. The cost was brought in at $1.9 million depending on the berm choice. The council voted to go forward with the narrower roadbed of 22 feet in November of 2012.
At a joint meeting of the council and county commissions this past March, three council members questioned the wisdom of spending the money at this time. Commissioners president Jac Price called for the formation of a committee to hash over the project once again and come back with some alternatives.
On Monday, Brill brought forward the committee’s proposal. It was a radically slashed estimate of the cost to the county — from $1.9 million to $700,000 because highway officials now intend to cancel all right-of-way purchases, straightening of curves and leveling the hills.
Instead of increasing the safety of the road by straightening the road and leveling the hills, the new proposal will: install more speed limit signs, pulverize and repave the surface, widen the berm, paint new lines, shave off a foot or two at the crest of the hills, install guard rails and look into the costs and funding for off-duty police officers to pull extra patrols during busy times to enforce the 45 mph speed limit.
In addition there will be limited driveway access to the road from businesses along 200 West. Brill said the open access to the road from businesses will be replaced with clearly defined ingress and egress driveways. He said that also improves safety for traffic. The cost and the proposal have to be advertised so the council/commission will not vote on accepting the committee’s proposal until their next joint session is called.
Business and property owners were in the audience and voiced disappointment at the reduced project. Steve Raber owns a business along 200 North. He said he supposed they should all be satisfied that at least something is going to be done to the road.