Commissioners express concern over Ind. 37 budget   


Rising construction costs nationwide and a specialty drainage project at 146th Street and 141st Street has the Hamilton County Commissioners concerned that the Ind. 37 project cost will exceed its budget.

The commissioners discussed their concerns at their highway meeting in January. They considered changing the plan for the 141st Street intersection from a roundabout interchange to a right-in, right-out interchange as a solution.

“There was some discussion in regard to, ‘Hey, if this goes way out of budget, what’s our contingency plan? What are we going to do?’” commissioner Mark Heirbrandt said. “141st Street is the last interchange going to bid.”

Heirbrandt said competitive construction bids were received for the project’s largest interchanges at 126th Street and 146th Street. An email from Hamilton County Highway Department Director Brad Davis stated the three contracts awarded thus far – 126th Street, 146th Street and the drainage lines that will allow gravity to drain the interchanges — have totaled $73,759,185, about half of the $124 million budget. Specialty work needed to bore drainage lines underground cost more than originally thought, but Davis said the cost is in line with what that sort of work usually costs.

The 131st Street interchange and the 135th Street right-in, right-out will be combined for letting this fall, and when those bids are received, the county will further explore the last letting at 141st Street and will determine if a right-in, right-out is needed rather than a full roundabout interchange.

“We are not used to having projects that go over budget, so obviously, when they do, that causes some concern,” Heirbrandt said. “We always want to look for any other options. Can it be redesigned? Are there cost-effective things we might be able to look at to reduce the cost out there without compromising the traffic impact?”

By making the 141st Street a right-in, right-out intersection, similar to the plans for the 135th Street intersection, the project could save several million dollars, according to county officials.

“What people don’t realize is there is a lot of utility costs that are involved in 141st Street that drives that cost up as well as real estate along the (Ind.) 37 corridor that’s expensive,” Heirbrandt said. “It is escalating our pricing, along with the increase in construction prices, and that is concerning to us. If this was a perfect world, we are going to continue to do what we are going to do and build the project the way we intended it to be. We are very conservative with our dollars.”

Despite budget concerns, Heirbrandt said he is pleased with how well the bids for 146th and 126th streets went. He also is pleased by the communication from the City of Fishers and Hamilton County.

“I’m encouraged by the communication we have put out, not only the City of Fishers but Hamilton County is having regular meetings with the public,” Heirbrandt said. “We have had well over 70 meetings with businesses and homeowners and public meetings to get the word out and let people know what’s going on there during construction.”

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