GOSHEN — Plans for the construction of a new C.R. 40 connector road from the Waterford Mills Parkway intersection at Ind. 15 northwesterly to the bridge over the Elkhart River on C.R. 40 took a tentative step forward Tuesday during a meeting of the Goshen City Council.
At the meeting, council members approved a resolution establishing the terms and conditions of an interlocal agreement between the city and Elkhart County needed in order to move forward with the planned connector road project.
“A few years ago we completed our overpass on the south side of town, which is now the Waterford Mills Parkway, and this would be the next piece that would connect that overpass to the C.R. 40 bridge to help keep traffic moving toward C.R. 17 on the south side of town,” Goshen Mayor Jeremy Stutsman said of the project. “At this time, we don’t know what the project looks like. We’re just getting this interlocal agreement together so that we can start splitting the cost of design, and really looking into whether this will be a brand new S-curve road, or if we can find a way to use some existing infrastructure and just upgrade that. We’re looking at all different options now for the most affordable and the least impact on the community in that area as well.”
According to Stutsman, the current plan for the project’s funding is to evenly split the total cost between the county and the city, with the city’s portion of the funding coming primarily from TIF funds provided by the Goshen Redevelopment Commission.
“This is one of their projects,” Stutsman said of the commission. “I won’t say there won’t be any city funds in it, but the plan is to use all TIF funds to pay for our share of the project.”
According to the resolution, the county will serve as the lead agency for the project, and has agreed to be responsible for the overall administration of the project including, but not limited to, the following:
• Bidding the project in compliance with governmental requirements;
• Obtaining any governmental permits or approvals required to construct the project;
• Administering any contract or contracts awarded to a successful bidder or bidders on the project;
• Providing or contracting for engineering review and construction inspection services for the project to the extent that such are not the responsibility of the successful bidder or bidders;
• Maintaining the documents, contracts, notices and other records connected to the project;
• Providing the city with a financial summary of all funds needed for the project, all funds received for the project, and all funds ultimately expended on the project, including the reconciliation of the funding provided by the city and county;
• Providing or contracting for right-of-way acquisition services needed for the project; and
• Paying all costs and expenses associated with serving as the lead agency, and for all engineering services and right-of-way acquisition services, as such shall be incurred in connection with the project.
The resolution also notes the county will be responsible for providing or contracting for an engineer to serve as the design consultant for the project, who will furnish engineering and design work necessary for the project, including survey and geotechnical services.
As for the city’s participation in the agreement, the resolution outlines the city’s responsibilities as follows:
• The city shall review and approve the project’s engineering and design;
• The city shall pay its share of all costs and expenses associated with the engineering, right-of-way, land acquisition and construction needed for the project, to include necessary appraisals and review of appraisals, and shall cooperate with the county on the right-of-way acquisition for the project;
• The city’s participation shall include its share of all direct and indirect costs associated with the project, including utility relocation, change orders and compaction and materials testing; and
• The city shall appropriate and have available for use by the county all funds required of the city for its share of the direct or indirect costs with the understanding that the transfer of such funds to the county must occur either simultaneously or in advance of the project’s bidding, as the county is not in a position to advance the funds for all costs associated with the project.
NO NEW BRIDGE
Regardless of which option is eventually chosen for the new connector road, Stutsman assured the council’s members the plan does not call for the construction of a new C.R. 40 bridge, which he said would just be too cost-prohibitive.
“I think every option that is currently being looked at is utilizing the existing bridge on C.R. 40,” Stutsman said. “About five to six years ago they were looking at building a new bridge, but the expense of that just blows up. So it’s not obtainable.”
While admittedly in the very early stages of the project, city attorney Larry Barkes noted that at this time the current construction plan has the project kicking off sometime in early 2023 and being completed by the end of 2023.
“There is an option at least that we may have our funding in place earlier, so if that is the case, we could start in 2022,” Barkes added of the project. “But what we’re committing to is 2023, and that the project’s expected completion date would be by Dec. 31, 2023.”
A motion was put forward and passed unanimously to approve the resolution as presented.