By MATT KOESTERS
Thanks to the rainy conditions, the ceremony celebrating the construction of Star Hill Road was moved inside at Huber’s Orchard, Winery & Vineyards on Friday. But that’s just one final pebble in the path of getting the $13.6 million project under way.
Officials from the Indiana Department of Transportation, the Office of Community and Rural Affairs and local business people joined the Clark County commissioners on stage to pose with shovels to mark the beginning of the construction project. The project will see the construction of a new two-lane road extending from Rake Road near Starlight to Ind. 60 near Borden.
“I’m really excited about where we’re going today, and where we’re going to move on to,” said Bob Zier, executive adviser for INDOT.
The construction of Star Hill Road will mean safer roadways for tourists visiting Starlight and Borden, said Ted Huber, co-owner of Huber’s Orchard, Winery & Vineyards. Huber estimated that his business hosts about 550,000 tourists every year.
“We want to get some of those 550,000 people headed our way,” said Rudy Cook, Borden town council president. “Spend some bucks in Borden, OK?”
Borden plans to attract tourists through the construction of a new recreational lake adjoining Clark State Forest, Cook said.
The road project has been more than 30 years in the making, with discussion of constructing a road from Ind. 60 to U.S. 150 in Greenville taking place all the way back in the mid-60s, said Randy Koetter, president and CEO of Koetter Woodworking in Starlight.
“It will give the opportunity for this part of the county to go from hundreds of jobs to thousands of jobs,” Koetter said.
The new Star Hill Road alignment will provide a safer route between Borden and Starlight with passing zones, paved shoulders for disabled vehicles, guard rails and widened pavement, according to an INDOT release. In addition to safety on the roads, the new road will provide improved access to emergency first responders from Borden to Starlight, said Huber. He estimated it takes between 35 to 45 minutes for first responders to reach his business in the case of an emergency.
The project is partially funded by OCRA. According to David Terrell, who is the deputy chief of staff to Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman and the executive director of OCRA, the project marks the first of many in which OCRA and INDOT have partnered.
In addition to the construction of Star Hill Road, the gathered officials also lauded the completion of work on St. John Road. The $1.3 million project realigned and widened the road, minimizing sharp turns.
“It is a great day seeing everyone’s hard work and diligence pay off for these much-needed projects, said Clark County Commissioner Ed Meyer. “These projects provide a whole lot of benefit for this area of Clark County.”