Johnson County officials seek temporary fix for aging, crumbling neighborhood streets

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JOHSON COUNTY, Ind. — Johnson County officials are turning to a temporary solution in order to address more than 19 miles of crumbling streets in 15 different subdivisions.

For decades, concrete streets in neighborhoods like Carefree North, Carefree South, Willow Lakes, Hunters Pointe and others have been money savers for the county. Concrete streets last longer than asphalt and generally require less regular maintenance.

“A lot of these neighborhoods were built in the 1960s, 70s and 80s,” said Johnson County Highway Director Luke Mastin. “These are aging streets, and even concrete has a lifespan.”

Carefree North residents Mark Woodard and Becky Stanley say they’ve seen their neighborhood streets crack and crumble significantly in recent years. Stanley said getting through the neighborhood in a car is bad enough, let alone a bicycle or skateboard.

“This whole area needs to be redone,” Stanley said. “One of the kids is going to hit one of these holes, and they’re going to get hurt.”

“I even asked one time, ‘Can we get money together from the residents themselves and pool it in?’” Woodard said. “Over the years, they’ve just kind of put it off and put it off, so we’re really hoping that we can get something done.”

County crews have done spot repairs and patching over the years, but Mastin says many of the streets are now beyond maintenance.

“When those streets do reach the point that there aren’t any viable maintenance options, then your only option is reconstruction,” Mastin said.

It would cost roughly $22 million to reconstruct all the streets that need to be replaced within the next few years, and that’s not money the county has, Mastin said.  

As a temporary fix, Johnson County commissioners approved an application for a $1 million state Community Crossings matching grant. Mastin says the plan is for the county to match the grant and use the $2 million to mill and resurface the streets with asphalt overlay. Such resurfacing could keep the streets drivable for another 10 to 15 years, Mastin said.

It’s a temporary solution that some in county government, including Johnson County Commissioner Brian Baird, consider a million-dollar Band Aid. Mastin doesn’t disagree, however, he believes the move is necessary.

“The roads that are not done up front are going to fall apart,” he said. “The reality is so many of them need reconstruction at this time. We need a solution that will buy us time.”

“It’s definitely a Band-Aid, but it’s one of those things you take what you can get,” Woodard said. “It’ll definitely be better than what we have here.”

Mastin points out that Johnson County is competing with other communities for the grant funding, so there’s no guarantee it will come. He expects to learn where the grant funding is going this fall.

If the grant is awarded and this plan is set in motion, county officials plan to start looking at options for a more permanent solution. Such measures would likely include a combination of saving and exploring bonds and other grants, Baird said.

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