by Mitchell Kirk Pharos-Tribune
---- — The Cass County Highway Department is preparing for a multi-million-dollar road reconstruction project connecting two industrial thoroughfares near Clymers.
The project will consist of reconstructing the roughtly three and a half miles of 400 South between Ind. 25 and Ind. 29. It will take place through three to four phases and include new pavement, a wider road surface and drainage improvements.
Phase one will be the portion of 400 South from Ind. 25 to just east of 400 West, which includes the town of Clymers. It is estimated to cost about $2.2 million. The total project is estimated to cost about $10 million.
Funding for the improvements comes from a match grant from the Indiana Department of Transportation. Much of the highway department’s 20 percent contribution comes from state funds paid to the county through the relinquishment of roads after the completion of the new Ind. 25 Hoosier Heartland Highway.
Bid letting for the first phase is set for July 2015, with construction expected to start late in the year. Cass County Highway Superintendent Jeff Smith said a rough timeline for the project estimates the entire project concluding in 2018.
The improvements will require acquisitions for right-of-ways, but not houses.
“We have done our best to minimize any impact to properties coming through Clymers,” Smith said.
An informational meeting regarding the first phase of the project will be at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Clymers/Clinton Township Fire Department on the corner of 400 West and 400 South in Clymers. Representatives from the highway department and Indianapolis-based CHA, the design firm hired for the project, will be there to present information and answer questions.
Smith said those present will do their best to answer all questions, but the fact that the project is partially federally funded limits how much the highway department can speak on the right-of-way acquisition, as those negotiations must be carried out by employees with the Indiana Department of Transportation.
An environmental hearing for the project will be held in the near future at a date to be determined.
The second phase of the project will pick up where the first phase leaves off and continue east near 300 West. The final two phases, which have the possibility of being combined into one, will span from 300 West to Ind. 29.
Smith said the motivation for the project stems from the October completion of the Ind. 25 Hoosier Heartland Highway. An increase in industrial activities and truck traffic is expected to follow the opening of the new road, pressing the need to improve a link between Ind. 25 and Ind. 29 like 400 South. Several industrial facilities lie just to the north of the area, where county officials are planning to establish an industrial park.
“The road as it is now is just not made for heavy vehicles,” Smith said.
Mitchell Kirk is a staff reporter at the Pharos-Tribune. He can be reached at 574-732-5130 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him: @PharosMAK
If you go: WHAT: Informational meeting about 400 South reconstruction project WHEN: 6 p.m. Wednesday WHERE: Clymers/Clinton Township Fire Department, corner of 400 West and 400 South, Clymers