Road work continues on Markland Pike as county seeks to make travel more safe

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When the state of Indiana announced last year that it would distribute money to counties as part of its “Major Moves” program, Switzerland County officials decided that those new funds could be best spent in making improvements to Markland Pike, which runs north and south down the hill near the Markland Dam.

The road has always been heavily traveled by local residents who use Markland Pike to get to the dam and across the river, mainly going to work.

But with the three year project by the Indiana Department of Transportation that has closed State Road 129 through the summer months, more and more out of town travelers have been using Markland Pike as a shortcut to get to Belterra Casino Resort and Spa.

That additional traffic on a road that was already narrow in places became a cause for concern for county officials, and that concern has translated into work being done on sections of the road to make travel more safe for everyone.

The work is being done in phases, with workers currently focusing on an area from Melock Road to the south.

“I think that this first phase will be done in a couple of more weeks,” Switzerland County Highway Superintendent Edd Cook said. “This first phase involves realignment of the roadway, widening some of the curves, and moving the road away from the creek.”

The work is being done by McAlister Excavating, with the county highway department also participating with trucks, equipment, and manpower.

The county is currently in talks with landowners to the north of the current project in hopes that additional work can continue on the roadway once the first phase is completed. Although nothing is firm at this point, the county hopes to continue the improvements on north as long as funding holds out.

“We believe that this work will make travel more safe for everyone who drives Markland Pike,” Edd Cook said.

Work has also been completed on Fairview Road, where an old boiler tank culvert that was too short gave way, causing a portion of the south side of the road to fall in.

Edd Cook said that contractors have installed new concrete retaining walls and wing walls on the south and north sides of the roadway, and that the county is currently doing some finish work on the area.

Fairview Road was expected to reopen to all traffic on Wednesday night.

“We still need to smooth out the roadway and put some final grade over that,” Edd Cook said. “Eventually it will be paved back over.”

Edd Cook also said that the summer paving program has not yet begun, but that the county hopes that the paving will get underway within the next 3-4 weeks.

As for major roads targeted for paving this year, Edd Cook said that Turtle Creek/Little Hominy Ridge will be paved from top to bottom; and that Aaron Road will also see new pavement.

“Other than that, most of our paving work this year will be several smaller projects,” Edd Cook said.