Area planners have eyes on Highway Trust Fund deadline

TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) – “What would happen is, we would finish the design then we’d have to put them on the shelf,” Tippecanoe County Highway Department Executive Director Opal Kuhl said about designs for Lindberg Road and Klondike Road.

Kuhl is currently working on the design for two projects. One on Lindberg Road the other on Klondike Road. Construction is set to begin around 2017-2018, but if Congress does not figure out a way to fund the Federal Highway Trust Fund the Tippecanoe County projects could be put on hold.

“When we get to the construction phase, which would be about 2017-2018, the Klondike project is a little over $5 million. The Lindberg project is a little over $2 million,” Kuhl said. “In our local funds, our local motor vehicle highway and our local road and street, we just don’t have those amounts of money.”

The government will stop paying states in full if the fund is depleted, which is expected to happen in August.

Area Plan Commission assistant director John Thomas said the county gets about $4 million a year from the federal highway gas tax, which funds the Highway Trust Fund, to go toward road projects.

“The extension of Cumberland, the extension of McCarty, up coming construction on Happy Hollow, up coming construction on S. 18th Street,” Thomas listed some federally funded projects.

Thomas said the effects may not be felt right away because local governments front the money then are reimbursed by the federal government.

“While it’s not going to have an immediate impact, projects will not close or shut down immediately, more than likely. That puts a greater strain on the community when they don’t have that cash flow when they were depending on it,” Thomas said.

An upcoming project in West Lafayette is the reconstruction of Happy Hollow Road. That is a federally funded project. Bid openings are next week.

Engineer Dave Buck said he’s hoping he can get the project started at the end of the summer without being stopped by lack of funding.

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