State, local officials in Indiana disconnected over East End Bri - WDRB 41 Louisville News

State, local officials in Indiana disconnected over East End Bridge complaints

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UTICA, Ind. (WDRB) -- There’s a disagreement between the state of Indiana and a small town over the East End Bridge Project. Indiana Department of Transportation officials said they’re open to hearing the complaints, but Utica leaders say that has yet to happen.

Utica Town Board President Steve Long says construction of the new East End Bridge will put the town of 800 people into financial disrepair. From torn up roads to losing prime real estate, he feels the concerns are falling on deaf ears.

“No, we can't get a response and that's why we're concerned,” Long said.

The town has sent multiple letters to the governor and the state officials. 

“INDOT is open to having any discussion with local officials,” INDOT Communications Director Scott Manning told WDRB News.

However, INDOT Project Manager Ron Heustis and Manning say town leaders need to think smaller.

“Those folks are certainly welcome to be at the table on those conversations,” Manning said. “Facilitating those discussions starts at the local level and at the project level.”

Long on the other hand said no one is calling him back. He’s worried for drivers' safety on Upper River Road where trees have been removed near the bridge. With a small town budget he says Utica can’t afford guard rails or other safety features.

“A car is going to end up in the river and we’re told by INDOT that’s not INDOT's problem,” Long said.

“Those trees didn't exist as a guard rail or safety barrier,” Manning said.

Utica also has issue with its exit not opening until a year after the bridge opens. INDOT says that's because the bridge project is ahead of schedule and Old Salem Road won't be ready for the traffic.

“Old Salem Road will be widened to 11-foot lanes in each direction and four foot shoulders so it will be a lot safer,” Manning said.

Officials say the entire project will bring in $87 billion to the region over 40 years.

“It's great for southern Indiana, but we're not included,” Long said.

The bridge is expected to open at the end of the year.

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