Grant pursued for C.R. 17 extension

GOSHEN — The county is taking a shot at winning a federal grant to help fund part of the next expansion of C.R. 17.

Engineering staff with the Elkhart County Highway Department are finalizing an application for a Build Grant through the U.S. Transportation Department. The program, with its name an acronym for “Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development,” provides funds to support transportation projects that don’t quite qualify for traditional DOT programs, according to the department’s website.

County Transportation Manager Charlie McKenzie discussed the process with the Elkhart County Commissioners while seeking a wage certification approval for the grant during Monday’s meeting. The commissioners approved the request, with Commissioner Frank Lucchese absent for the meeting.

If the county wins funding, McKenzie said the money would help cover costs for one phase of the project to widen the rest of C.R. 17 into a four-lane expressway from C.R. 38 to U.S. 6.

The first phase of construction, from C.R. 38 to C.R. 142, would cost an estimated $28.6 million, County Engineer Kent Schumacher said in an email. Since the grant functions as an 80/20 match up to $25 million, he said the county could receive a maximum of $23 million if funds are awarded.

Federal funds provided through the Michiana Area Council of Governments are already allocated to the road expansion’s first phase, Schumacher said. If the county receives a Build Grant, the money from MACOG would be re-tasked to cover the second phase of work from C.R. 142 to C.R. 46.

The application for the Build Grant is due next Monday, and Schumacher expects winners could be selected in September or October.

Engineering work ahead of the C.R. 17 construction is still underway.

Schumacher said a public meeting will be held to share information from a recent corridor study on C.R. 17 and discuss alternate routes for the widened expressway vs. the road’s current route. The meeting could be held sometime in September, but a date has not yet been set.

DUMP TRUCK BIDS

The commissioners also accepted bids for purchasing two new dump trucks for the highway department.

McKenzie opened the bids first for truck chassis. Elkhart-based Selking International proposed $124,654 for each chassis, followed by a unit-price bid of $129,100 from JX Peterbilt in Fort Wayne, and a bid of $134,235 from Truck Centers Inc.

A second wave of bids was opened for truck bodies to go on the chassis. W.A. Jones Truck Bodies and Equipment of Columbia City submitted a bid of $125,032. While Merillville-based Lindco Equipment Sales bid $312,610 as the combined cost for two bodies, or $156,305 for each.

The commissioners accepted the bids, and they’ll be reviewed by the highway department staff.

Aimee Ambrose can be reached at aimee.ambrose@goshennews.com or 574-533-2151, ext. 316.

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