Reiners wondered, “Are there utilities in there that have to be moved” if Merkel Road is widened? The engineer confirmed, “It’s apparent that some utilities would need to be relocated.”
At the end of the presentation, Reiners said, “I don’t think that right now ... we can give you an answer on this. I really think we need to look at it and talk it over.” The commissioners will meet with the Ripley County Council in the next week, according to him.
After the Batesville contingent left, county attorney John Ertel asked county roads superintendent Owen Heaton Jr. how wide the right of way was and Heaton said 32 feet. Ertel commented, “That would make it a narrow right of way for a 24-foot road .... The county may be forced to proceed with eminent domain or negotiate … with landowners to expand that right of way.” He concluded, “It sounds like a good project. The question is, is there sufficient funding for it?”
Commissioner Mark Busching was worried that if a future industrial park company asked for an even wider road after the upgrade, “then it’s money down the drain.”
While Reiners said he’s never had one complaint from any trucking companies about Merkel Road’s condition, “I’m not knocking the project … in the future, it will probably bring a lot more jobs to Ripley County, which is great.” Busching said, “I applaud them for being pro-active.”
Reiners said if commissioners decide to earmark funds to better the road, they will “make it known this is a one-time deal.” If more improvements are needed later, “we will not participate.”
Debbie Blank can be contacted at email@example.com or 812-934-4343, Ext. 113.