County commissioners approve federal roadway grant application

·2 min read

Aug. 16—Back in November, President Joe Biden signed a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, which authorizes up to $108 billion to support federal public transportation project, with $91 billion of that being guaranteed funding.

Boone County Highway Engineer Mike Goralski told the Boone County Commissioners Monday morning that $150 million of that money is guaranteed to come to Indiana. A discretionary program, dubbed Safe Streets and Roads for All (SS4A), will be distributing the funds over the next five years.

The main goal of SS4A is to prevent roadway deaths and serious injuries by improving roadways.

"The Department of Transportation (DOT) wants to see how we're making these measurable reductions and that's a component of the application [for the grant,]" Goralski said. "DOT recognizes local units of government are responsible for the majority of roadway miles, therefore, this grant is being administered by the federal government directly to local governments so there will be no pass-through with the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) or state agencies."

To make Boone County's application stronger, Goralski said the county highway department, in conjunction with the Town of Zionsville, has already developed a local road safety plan.

"Part of that local road safety plan, you have to identify safety concerns that are problematic in the county," he explained. "We've identified that we've got some issues along this corridor and we have a corridor study showing what improvements are being made."

The corridor he refers to encompasses County Road 300 South and Whitestown Parkway toward the Hamilton County border.

"We're not looking to do a corridor project, but we have identified an intersection with high crashes, at County Road 300 South and Pleasant View Road," Goralski said. "It has a high grade change in the area. It's got a lot of accidents currently and in the wintertime, it will melt and refreeze so it's a constant ice problem."

In his presentation to the commissioners, Goralski said the Zionsville Town Council is supportive of applying for the grant and asked them to be supportive as well.

Goralski and Boone County Highway Director Nick Parr said Boone County's application will be well-positioned because it already has a safety plan developed.

Parr said the area they're looking to use the federal dollars for is complicated because of its location and surrounding landscape. The intersection is surrounded with elevation changes, a cemetery, ponds and local residents, which all make repairs and construction in the area more tedious and expensive.

The commissioners unanimously approved a motion for approving the grant application.

"Another thing that is important about this is that this is available for five years," Commissioner Jeff Wolfe said. "We're early and we're going to learn a lot from this one so we hope to be able to utilize this program even more."