The Veterans Parkway Extension Project may not be dead.
While the joint application from Marshall County and the City of Plymouth was not awarded last fall for federal funding, the feedback from the application process shed some light on making the application more competitive.
This week Katie McLear and Craig Parks from USI Consultants appeared before the Marshall County Commissioners with the recommendation to start on the preliminary engineering using local funds. They said it will show a true commitment from the locals. They also said dividing the second phase into two section with the County applying for the project from North Michigan Road westwardly to Oak Drive and the City of Plymouth applying for the section from Oak Drive to Pioneer Drive with a Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) spelling out the responsibilities of each. The MOU would be included with the application.
Parks said the forward thinking of the county to complete the environmental process when the first phase was completed helps to keep the project moving along faster. He did not that since the environmental is 5 years old it will need an amendment to be sure things have not changed. He also noted that having the environmental completed moves the preliminary engineering along faster. Craig said funding could be available in 2027 although having it shovel ready could move funding up to 2024.
The cost for preliminary engineering for the entire project is $1,412,575 with the city’s share being $469,284 and the county covering $943,290. USI suggested doing the preliminary engineering in two smaller projects with stage one being from Michigan Road to Oak Drive and stage two from Oak Drive to Pioneer Drive. While stage one would be 100% paid by local funds and then request Preliminary Engineering funds for everything past stage one.
The presented a standard INDOT LPA agreement to the commissioner for consideration at a later date. The USI representatives will be speaking with the County Council and Plymouth Redevelopment Commission about the new proposal in the next few weeks.
Commissioner Kevin Overmyer asked about any wetland issues and was told while there were wetlands, they have already been mitigated with the first phase. They would be required to check and see if any new wetlands have appeared since the initial report.
Commissioner Mike Burroughs said INDOT is moving ahead with the PELL Study on US 30 in preparation to make it a limited access highway. He said having Veterans Highway as a solution will help with traffic is a good plan. Burroughs said, “I think we should move forward with the project.”
When asked any comments Commissioner Stan Klotz said, “Same thing I said before. Our focus needs to be on the roads we’ve got now before we start something else.”
Commissioner Burroughs asked about funds budgeted for this project and Commissioner Overmyer said there is money sitting there. He continued, “There is $1.4 million of relinquishment funds still sitting there.”
Commissioner Overmyer said, “I think we need to continue moving forward with this. If we are going to do it now is the time with this administration that we have in place until the end of 2024 cause we’ll have a new administration and if we get this locked in with this current administration and get something signed the next administration won’t say, ‘Oh we didn’t know anything about this.’ I’ve experienced that before.”
Total cost for the project is $14.9 million for everything.