JEFFERSONVILLE – Jeffersonville's multi-million investment in wide-sweeping road improvements last year is expected to pave the way to a prosperous 2019 and beyond for the city.
“I am very pleased with all the construction projects we have and are completing,” District 1 city councilperson Dustin White said of the unprecedented amount of infrastructure work the city has undertaken over the past year.
“With the growth we are experiencing, it is necessary to enhance the flow of traffic – and we are doing it in a way that is aesthetically pleasing.”
While admittedly it was a year-long bumpy ride for the city’s commuters and residents alike, mayor Mike Moore and other city leaders say the major road projects initiated in 2018 will keep the city moving forward for years to come once the current work wraps up mid-year.
“It’s with any infrastructure project, there’s always headaches, delays and aggravation,” Moore said.
“But, I am confident that when we’re finished, there’s going to be whole a lot of happy people, and Jeffersonville will be in a great position to continue to grow for the next 30 or 40 years because of the projects we’re doing today.”
The mayor acknowledges that construction fatigue has set in for many who regularly travel the ever-changing streets of bustling Jeffersonville.
He anticipated it and even addressed it in advance during his state-of-the-city address at the beginning of last year.
“I said in 2018, people are probably going to cuss me; hopefully, in 2019, they say thanks,” he said with a laugh.
Moore says the city's extensive road work projects were necessary to support “all the good we have now and all the good that is still to come.”
Jeffersonville has been experiencing the equivalent of a modern-day gold rush over the past few years, with new commerce and housing alike popping up on all sides of the city at a break-neck pace, the mayor said.
That progress, in turn, called for vastly improved and widened main arteries throughout Jeffersonville to accommodate both the city’s current and future needs.
So, Moore said, the city addressed the situation with a full-court press.
There have been $50 million worth of road improvements made over the past seven years in Jeffersonville, the mayor said, with $23 million of that work being initiated in 2018 alone.
That was accomplished with no tax increase, he added, thanks to the use of Tax Increment Financing (TIF) dollars, which are collected from new businesses in designated commercial areas of the city.
Throughout last year, Moore said significant work was accomplished, especially with several major sections within the city's overall 10th Street widening and improvement project being completed at both ends of the thoroughfare.
However, the mayor understands why city residents and commuters would feel frustrated with the incomplete sections that remain.
The good news, he said, is that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
The final touches will be placed on the majority of the incomplete roadwork by late spring/early summer, the mayor said, namely with the Holmans Lane/Veterans Parkway project and the section of 10th Street between White Castle to just beyond the Plank Road intersection.
‘WE'RE GETTING THINGS DONE HERE'
The mayor said he appreciates the community’s patience while, he believes, Jeffersonville makes up for lost time.
“The roadwork is definitely a pain but, if you don’t undertake it, you fall behind. Unfortunately, that’s what the city of Jeff did for decades,” the mayor said.
“The road projects that we are handling today should have been done in the '80s or the '90s, but politicians were afraid to undertake a project where people get mad.”
Moore said he refused to let that same fear rule his leadership once he took office in 2012.
“I thought, ‘I’m not going to sit back and wait for somebody else to do it. I am going to jump in there, and we’re going to get these things done,” Moore said.
“I understand people get mad but, if we are going to grow and provide a place for our kids to come back to, we’ve got to take care of some problems that have been ignored for a long time.”
He added, “It’s one of the reason I’m proud to be the mayor and from Jeffersonville – we’re getting things done here.”
“I wish that the projects could get finished faster, but such is the nature of massive road projects,” District 6 city councilperson Scott Hawkins said.
“Also, 10th and Holmans are projects that have needed to be done for decades, so I’m thrilled they are finally getting attention.”
At-large city councilperson Nathan Samuel echoed Hawkins.
“The city council and the administration were anticipating the completion of more projects, such as Holmans Lane and 10th Street in 2018,” he said.
“So for those projects, I am anticipating being very pleased – but I’m only optimistic at this point. It is my understanding the slowdown on those projects have been the relocating of utilities, which is outside of the city and administrative purview.”
The mayor confirmed that has been the case.
“A lot of people don’t see work getting done or they see guys standing around, and they don’t know that all of the utility lines – and you’re talking about Vectren, Duke, Spectrum, phone lines – all of that stuff has to be moved, and they’re all individuals,” Moore said.
“It’s not one company that comes in and moves everything. Same thing with sewer lines, water lines. With a lot of the work on these big projects, people don’t actually see the work being done. It’s 10 feet under the ground.”
He also noted that, as far as paving, “you won’t see anything happen until probably the end of March,” Moore said. This is because asphalt plants shut down around mid-December, and “they’re closed until mid- to late-March because it’s too cold to make asphalt.”
The mayor said continued roadwork will also be tackled around the city’s gateway in the areas of Ninth, 10th and Spring streets.
“You will see ground broken on the Hogan Gateway development program by early February, so that project is a go,” Moore said, adding that he anticipates the developer will announce later this month which national names will be coming to the city.
He also pointed toward the development of the Gottbrath Parkway as a 2018 success for Jeffersonville, and he said more is to come in that area, just as it is across other areas of the city.
“Millions and millions of dollars are about to be developed in the city of Jeff,” he said.
'PEOPLE WILL BE VERY HAPPY'
Overall, Samuel is pleased with the work that has been completed thus far and anticipates what’s to come in 2019.
“Once we get our main arteries through the city and across the city completed the headaches should be over and people will be very happy,” he said.
While all of the road projects are critical, Samuel said he believes the most beneficial work tackled in 2018 was the widening of 10th Street.
“This has been a long time coming since it carries a huge amount of traffic every day. By widening it, that provides much better flow,” he said.
“Once it's completely finished, you will see the maximum flow. And as the north end of the city continues to grow, that is a necessity.”
Hawkins agreed with Samuel in regard to 10th Street.
“It is the primary artery of our city. Moreover, the central part of 10th Street – what I refer to as midtown – is an area that needs attention,” Hawkins said.
“For this area, the road project is more than just about paving, it will – hopefully – assist in economic growth. A necessary first step to develop that area."
White said he is pleased with the improvements he’s seen in his district, as well as city-wide.
“…the expansion of 10th Street and reconstruction of the Claysburg area of Spring Street are projects that will have long-term impact on development and quality of life for the citizens of Jeffersonville,” he said.
Moore said he is enthused about all the current infrastructure work coming to a close soon, but he is especially eager for the 10th Street project to come to pass.
That specific project is the one he campaigned on in 2011, he said. However, when he took office in 2012, Moore said he was met with resistance and the project was delayed.
“The first four years of my administration, the city council refused to approve the 10th Street project,” he said. “It wasn’t until 2016 that the city council approved it.”
Calling it a "long, drawn-out process,” Moore said he will be glad when it concludes this summer.
The mayor said he appreciates the current city council’s bipartisan support of the roadwork projects they have undertaken together, especially in 2018.
“Having a city council on board this term has made a huge difference,” Moore said.
“I agree that the working relationship is much more positive,” Samuel said, “and I look forward to what 2019 brings.”