Construction of Kokomo’s “bypass of the bypass” is racing toward completion.
Beginning with the underpass at County Roads 200 South (Southway Boulevard) and 50 North (Carter Street), work on the 12-mile, $155 million corridor east of the city has progressed steadily with few glitches.
Work has gone so smoothly, in fact, that our biggest frustration with the project occurred in 2009. The state had begun purchasing property along Ind. 22/U.S. 35, east of the McGonigal Buick, GMC and Cadillac franchise and Morning Star Church.
And it was easy to pinpoint which homes the state had bought.
Motorists and their passengers saw weeds and overgrown grass west of County Road 300 East. The appearance of Kokomo’s eastern gateway was a year-old eyesore.
Upkeep of the properties wasn’t the responsibility of the former homeowners, the city of Kokomo or Howard County government. Our state government was the owner of record.
The state later rectified its problem.
But here we are, at the tail-end of a project that is to be finished next month and simple maintenance of state property still is an issue.
U.S. 31 was an eyesore back in July and remains so three months later.
From the underpass under construction in northern Tipton County to the southern half of U.S. 31 through Kokomo, grass and weeds dominate the median splitting the southbound and northbound lanes. Vegetation still is more than 4 inches. City director of operations Randy McKay told us in July his office fielded at least a couple of calls daily from travelers complaining of the roadway’s appearance. We doubt such complaints have subsided.
Mayor Greg Goodnight and his staff made frequent pleas with the state Department of Transportation this past spring and summer to clean up its mess. The administration talked with state Sen. Jim Buck and state Rep. Mike Karickhoff about the problem, Goodnight told us. They had little sway then, and their influence apparently hasn’t improved.
For the second time in three months, we’re asking INDOT to do its job, show a little pride in the communities of this state and maintain the U.S. 31 median. Visitors and residents of Kokomo shouldn’t have to put up with an unkempt major artery.