At the request of the City of Frankfort, representatives from the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) E & B Paving gave an update on INDOT’s State Road 28 reconstruction project (INDOT Contract #R-38221) and fielded questions at a public meeting Thursday night in the Skanta Theatre on the second floor of the Frankfort Community Public Library.

Work began on Phase One of the Ind. 28 project on April 1. That phase, which includes all contract work west of Jackson St. in Frankfort, originally targeted Oct. 31, 2021 as its completion date, but work west of Jackson St. is far from finished.

“We expected to have all the road reconstruction work completed from the west end of the project by the end of last month,” INDOT Area Engineer Gary Fox said. “We didn’t make it. We might be somewhere around 40 percent complete.

“We are behind schedule,” Fox continued. “We had a lot of challenges, delays and reasons behind why that is. A lot of them were attributed to the utilities. Many of the utilities were supposed to have been cleared out of the way prior to construction beginning this past April, and some of them were not. I might add that city utilities were very helpful to us, but some of the others were not out of the way. That created some delays with our controlling operation and storm sewer construction.”

Fox also listed material delays, weather delays (excess rain in spring and fall) and utility conflicts delaying storm sewer construction as factors in Phase One of the project falling behind its timetable for completion.

“As you all know, we had a very wet spring season and in October, so weather delays were another aspect of what caused us to fall quite far behind schedule,” Fox said. “We need to look for ways to make an effort to catch up on that. Over the winter, the most important aspect of that is that there is underground work that needs to be done, including utilities, storm sewer, water services and the like. Our intent is to get as much of that underground work done as possible. E & B Paving, the prime contractor, will be doing as much as possible to get those things cleared and out of the way before we start construction again in the springtime of 2022.”

Phase Two of the project – east of Jackson St. to Hoke, including the intersection of Ind. 39 and Ind. 28 – is still planned for completion by the end of 2022.

“We have a lot of catching up to do to get there,” Fox said. “Like I said, we are going to do everything possible to make that happen.”

INDOT reported that as of Nov. 15, 11,060 linear feet of storm sewer, 2,698 linear feet of water main and 3,431 linear feet of curb and gutter have been completed.

Representatives from INDOT spent the second half of the meeting answering questions from the public, including owners of businesses located in or near the construction area. Fox agreed to have someone meet with some of the concerned citizens and business owners to address specific issues and concerns after the public meeting.

“I wanted to learn some dates,” said Payton Akard, owner of 3 D’s Pizzeria, which is located at the intersection of Ind. 28 and McKinley Ave. “Honestly, it was supposed to be done Nov. 1, and we are not even halfway done yet. So, we are going to watch another year here. They say they are going to catch up, but there (is) no way. They don’t really have any dates yet. They just say hopefully they will be done next year, but that doesn’t give us many answers. We will see. They have worked with me. They put signs up and are trying to help, but it is frustrating. It looks like we are watching another year – at least.”

Mayor Judy Sheets says it was important to have the concerns of businesses and residents heard by those involved with the project.

“I felt that it was important that the citizens and also the business owners were given the opportunity to talk to the people who can actually give them the answers,” Sheets said. “We can’t give them answers. It is not our project. So, I thought it was very important that they come to the meeting tonight and get their concerns addressed. At least these people say they will take it back to their team. They are going to address it and see how they can move forward in the process. They are promising us that they will move forward quickly when they can to expedite the process, so I hope that they do.”

The Ind. 28 reconstruction project was awarded to E & B Paving LLL for $17.9 million and will resurface or reconstruct portions of Ind. 28 from Co. Road 200 W. east to Jackson St., the addition of a right turn lane from westbound Ind. 28 to northbound Jackson St., and then continue with the reconstruction of Ind. 28 from Jackson St. eastward to Hoke Ave. The project also includes the addition of dedicated left turn lanes on Ind. 28 at Clay St., the reconstruction of the storm water system, reconstruction of sidewalks to be American with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant on the south side of Ind. 28 from West St. to Hoke Ave., and a shared use path on the north side of Ind. 28 for the total length of the project. This project was originally scheduled for completion in the fall of 2022.