Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Local News

July 14, 2013

Public eye

State finally cutsthe ‘weedians’

Just when it seemed as though the weeds, volunteer shrubs, cattails and tall grass couldn’t climb any higher, the Indiana Department of Transportation finally mowed the medians on U.S. 31 in Kokomo. To say it took a bit longer than usual would be an understatement.

Three weeks ago, when we first started hearing complaints about the weeds, we asked an INDOT spokesman when the median would be mowed. The Tipton subdistrict crews were busy with chip-seal work, and would “get on the mowers” as soon as it was done, we were told.

Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight also received complaints about the scuzzy growth. When residents become dissatisfied with the roads in town, even if the roads are state-owned, the city is usually the default governmental organization for complaints.

“If it was a city property or a county property, or one of the school corporations owned it, and we maintained our property like they do, people wouldn’t accept it,” Goodnight said. “Gov. Pence wouldn’t accept these kinds of weeds outside on the Statehouse lawn.”

But the weed issue speaks to a larger, looming issue concerning U.S. 31, which is that state officials are hoping to get the city to take over the road once the new U.S. 31 bypass is up and running near the end of this year.

So far, neither the city nor INDOT has offered much insight into the negotiations, which would have to include some state money and/or upgrades to the current U.S. 31 corridor.

“What they think is just compensation and what I think is just compensation might be two different things,” Goodnight said Thursday.

“We can’t begin to afford to take over the corridor,” said Larry Ives, Howard County’s metropolitan planning official. “The whole underpavement is gone. The first thing they need to do is a full ‘Four R’ reconstruction. Anything less than that and it will just fall apart.”

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