Rapidly rising construction prices mean Wayne County must find additional funding for eight bridge projects scheduled across three years.

Brandon Sanders, the county’s engineer, appeared before the county’s commissioners Feb. 28 to discuss shortfalls associated with the rising costs. The first of the federal projects is Bridge 701 on South G Street in Richmond.

Sanders said the construction costs have risen more than $1.1 million since the project received funding in 2019. The Indiana Department of Transportation was picking up 80% of the tab, leaving the county to pay $517,500. INDOT has informed Sanders it will contribute no additional money despite the bid costs exceeding the 2019 estimates.

Sanders’ plan is to use remaining jail bond money that’s being split between bridges and the highway department. Expiration of the bond that paid for jail construction projects enabled the county to lower the local option income tax rate from 0.015% to 0.0125.

The $856,695.21 from the jail bond plus the $517,500 budgeted leaves $322,139.79 that Sanders said he’ll pay from the county’s bridge fund. With eight projects across three years, however, extra payments will dwindle the bridge fund.

Sanders and commissioners plan to take the issue before council March 6 to discuss funding options.

Other actions

  • Wayne County is mandated by the state to participate in Economic Growth Region 6 with Randolph, Henry, Union, Fayette, Rush, Jay, Delaware and Blackford counties. Region 6 oversees the local Work One office. Commissioners unanimously approved a new four-year agreement for the county’s mandatory participation.
  • Craig Eason, the county’s IT director, received commissioner approval to spend $37,898 with FS for 28 switches that will become part of the county’s voice over internet system. Installing the switches will prepare the county buildings for installation of new voice and data cables to employee work stations.
  • Commissioners unanimously approved the county’s updated multi-hazard mitigation plan that recently received Federal Emergency Management Agency approval. The plan is updated every five years and enables participating municipalities to apply for FEMA grants or, if ever necessary, aid.
  • Commissioners unanimously extended the contract with Baker Tilly consulting firm of Indianapolis for assistance navigating the American Rescue Plan Act. The county had allocated $15,000 from its ARPA money for Baker Tilly services, but has so far spent less than $6,000.
  • A portion of ARPA money designated for the Hoosier Enduring Legacy Plan’s animal control study will pay half the cost of Animal Care Alliance trap-neuter-release programs in Williamsburg and Richmond. Commissioners unanimously approved spending $2,229.40, with the city of Richmond paying the other half. The county and city each allocated $50,000 to the study, which only cost $40,000.
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A version of this article appeared in the March 6 2024 print edition of the Western Wayne News.

Mike Emery is a reporter and layout editor for the Western Wayne News.