Utica officials say new East End Bridge could financially destroy small town
Utica has a yearly budget of $200,000, but town officials say it will cost them millions to make infrastructure repairs as a result of the East End Bridge construction.
UTICA, Ind. (WDRB) –- Utica officials once thought the new East End Bridge would greatly benefit their economy. But now, they say they're in a David and Goliath battle to keep their small Indiana town on the map.
"Everyone in the town is thrilled with this bridge, but this bridge is going to bring hardships on a small town,” said Utica Town Board President Steve Long.
With just a $200,000 budget, Long said they will be stunted economically.
“We just need people to realize that we need some help down here. There's 800 people in Utica,” Long said.
Although Walsh Construction has agreed to fix the roads they've destroyed, there are still three big concerns. The first two fall at the Utica exit. The town board said they recently found out their exit will not open until a year after the bridge's opening.
“The bridge is open for business, but Utica is not open for business,” Long said.
And board members say a Walsh maintenance facility was constructed on prime real estate ... a location they said was being eyed by developers.
“You can image what that hotel and restaurants would have done for this area,” board member Hank Dorman said.
The third concern falls at the base of the new bridge that will connect Indiana and Kentucky. Trees once lined Upper River Road, but since they’ve been cut down for the new bridge. Town officials said they'll need guard rails and a new drainage system, which could cost millions.
“We've had several neighbors from this area that have slid off this road, bounced off trees and luckily they haven't ended up in the river. Now there are no trees to stop you,” Long said.
Since it's not a state highway, INDOT is not responsible for the work that needs to be done. So the town is sending its plea for help all the way to Gov. Mike Pence.
“I don't think the state realizes the impact that bridge has had on our community,” Dorman said.
“If Utica doesn't get help, relief in many directions, this town could turn into a ghost town overnight,” Long said.
Utica town board members are also looking into grant opportunities to alleviate the financial burdens.
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