County gets $1.2 million for two roads

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Another may be funded later

By Kevin Koelling, Managing Editor

TELL CITY - The Perry County commissioners accepted in a regular meeting Wednesday more than $1.2 million in federal stimulus funding that will bring improvements to French Ridge and Leopold roads.

Tiger Road was among the federally funded roads for which he sought stimulus money, County Highway Superintendent Ed Feix told the commissioners, but wasn't approved in the latest round of funding, in which Perry and Knox were the only successful Indiana counties. He included Tiger Road in his application in case one of the others was turned down "or if there was an abundance of money," he said.  

The $1,243,910 approved for the two roads may vary depending on asphalt prices and how bidders respond, he added.

"I think the funding is due to your hard work and planning," Commissioner Jody Fortwendel told Feix.

"We met the requirements," Feix responded. "We had to stay on federal-aid roads. We looked at our long-range plan, and French Ridge Road was getting to be in bad shape."

All of the criteria for stimulus funding were built into the two roads because they were built under federal guidelines, he explained.

"These federally built roads are tremendous for motorists," Fortwendel observed, "but when it comes to maintenance, they can take your whole budget."

Feix said he attended several meetings in securing the funding, and "a lot of rules changed from the beginning, which started causing problems for small communities. The Vincennes District (of the Indiana Department of Transportation) went out of their way to help."

Many communities didn't have money to do up-front engineering initially required to obtain the stimulus money, he said, "and now they don't have to pay it up front. Vincennes was really concerned about people in their district."

A lot of county residents living along gravel roads hoped some of the federal money would come their way, Fortwendel noted, "but those (roads) didn't qualify."

"It would be a godsend if we could get money for Tiger Road," Fortwendel said.

The federal officials controlling the funds have "a whole lot less money than they've got projects turned in," Feix said. He hopes Tiger Road is funded in a later round, but if it isn't, "we still did pretty good," he noted.