FRANCISCO — Francisco residents went on record Wednesday night with their sentiments regarding a planned Ind. 64 paving project through the middle of town.

The public hearing, hosted by the Indiana Department of Transportation, included a brief presentation on the project, and an opportunity for public input.

Gibson County Commissioner Steve Bottoms offered a written statement of "total support" of the project. Bottoms said it will help with traffic going through the town and the elementary school. "This project will create a better quality of life for this community and is much appreciated," he said.

Francisco resident J.W. Brakebill voiced his concerns about the lack of community input up to this point with the project. "I just feel like somebody's made a decision for us and we didn't even have a vote on it," he said.

Brakebill said it seems as if landowners will have their right-of-ways taken away without anything in return, adding that he did not understand whether the project's purpose is to make the town prettier or to give a little bit better sidewalks. "I don't know," he said. "I'm just disappointed in the whole concept."

Steve Krieg has lived in Francisco for most of his life and said he can see nothing but good from this project. "I think it's a long time coming and I'm glad it's finally within sight," he said.

Krieg said he has a few concerns, but believes they can be taken care of through the town board and Commissioner Bottoms. He said trucks coming through town already don't slow down near the school. If the plan to close portions of the road sends them to back streets, Krieg said the roads are going to get torn up. He also said it's a safety issue for the community.

"All I'm asking is (that) you put some more thinking into rerouting the traffic here," he said. "If you're going to reroute the traffic, then enforce it."

The project's proposed detour route will lead through traffic from U.S. 41 to Ind. 168 to I-69 and bypass Francisco. The project involves three phases where portions of the roadway will be closed to traffic other than local businesses and homes.

The first phase is from the western limit of town to 5th Street; the second phase runs from 5th Street to Cross Street; and the last portion finishes from Cross Street to the eastern limits.

Completing construction in three phases is done for safety purposes and to help maintain the expected timeline, INDOT officials explained. Construction is expected to start in Spring of 2021, but an exact timeline is not expected until the final designs are complete. Once started, the project will run on a nine-month timeline.

The project is meant to restore pavement structure and improve the surface and subsurface drainage from the roads. There are also curbs and sidewalks that do not fall in line with ADA compliance due to their deterioration, which will be fixed.

Community members can make comments part of the public record until June 5 by submitting written statements to mwright@indot.in.gov or to Mary Wright ICGN Room N642, 100 North Senate Avenue, Indianapolis, IN 46204.

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