by Mitchell Kirk Pharos-Tribune
---- — An appropriation for the scaled-down 18th Street improvement project up for a vote in Logansport City Council Monday will likely be accompanied by a debate on whether the money should be spent right away so as to appease the state and consultants or delay it to allow time for more discussion.
The city’s previous administration, under former Mayor Mike Fincher, had originally planned an improvement project on 18th Street that would span south from Broadway and include a roundabout at the intersection of 18th and Main streets for a price tag estimated to be between $15 million and $20 million.
Logansport Mayor Ted Franklin and the current city council have since scaled down the project, nixing the roundabout and deciding to improve 18th Street south of the bridge by widening the road, redesigning the intersection at Main Street, adding turn lanes at intersections and improving drainage by repairing culverts.
At a recent meeting of city council’s finance committee, Franklin said the intersection at 18th and Main would become larger and that Stoney Pike would likely become a one-way. Infrastructure for a signal light would also be implemented at 18th and Main, he said, with the possibility of running tests to determine whether or not to replace the intersection’s current setup as a four-way stop.
“They could use it for a while and then re-evaluate,” Logansport City Councilman Joe Buck said of the traffic light.
Franklin said the project would likely start in about a year, if the council approves it.
Franklin added the project would accommodate the expected increased traffic from the Hoosier Heartland Highway nearby. He said the recent arrival of Sagamore Warehouse LLC on Stoney Pike has already led to 200 extra trucks a week coming through the area.
The $1.8 million project would be funded through a match grant from the Indiana Department of Transportation, or INDOT. City Council will vote Aug. 5 whether to appropriate its $260,000 share. Cass County officials have pledged to contribute $100,000 as well.
In a message to Franklin, Logansport Clerk-Treasurer Carol Sue Hayworth writes Indianapolis-based United Consulting, which did the design work for the project, has sent the city six invoices and contacted her recently requesting payment. She continues by writing the council should come to a decision on the matter as soon as possible so as to avoid jeopardizing the city’s standing with INDOT.
To attain this promptness, the legislation authorizing the city’s $260,000 is currently drafted in the form of a resolution, which would require one vote for its approval.
Logansport City Councilwoman Teresa Popejoy said she thinks a prompt response may not be the best way to go. She said she prefers appropriations to come in the form of ordinances, as they require two votes and allow for more discussion and public input.
“There was an awful lot of controversy on this,” she said, referring to last year when the city first announced plans to bring back the project. “I don’t want that stigma to reappear that we’re rushing through this.”
The council could propose an amendment that would reintroduce the legislation as an ordinance. Whether the appropriation gets approved on the spot or ends up requiring a second vote in September will be determined at the council’s monthly meeting at 5 p.m. Aug. 5 in the City Council Chambers on the third floor of the City Building, 601 E. Broadway.
Mitchell Kirk is a staff reporter at the Pharos-Tribune. He can be reached at 574-732-5130 or firstname.lastname@example.org.