The Carmel City Council on Oct. 3 approved $63 million in bonds for pathway and road improvements after amending the list of eligible projects to include grade-separated Monon Greenway crossings at 96th, 106th, 111th and 136th streets.
Closing gaps in the city’s pathway system is the top priority for the funds. Other projects on the list include Monon Square infrastructure improvements, upgrades to Ditch Road between 96th and 116th streets and nine new roundabouts.
The city won’t be able to pay for every project on the list with the $63 million, and officials will seek federal grants and other funding sources for some of them. A project must be on the list, however, to be eligible to receive funds through the bond.
Councilor Tim Hannon proposed expanding the project list to include the grade-separated Monon crossings, which could be designed as a bridge or tunnel. With the city’s population growing, vehicle traffic is increasing on roadways and pedestrian traffic is rising on the Monon, he said, leading to a greater likelihood of serious accidents.
“It’s very hard for cars to hit people when they’re separated from them. The best way we can protect people on the Monon is to do grade separations,” said Hannon, adding that a grade separation should also help with traffic flow.
City Engineer Jeremy Kashman estimated each grade-separated crossing to cost approximately $5 million.
The bonds, which are Carmel Redevelopment Authority lease rental bonds, will not lead to an increase in the city’s tax rate, which is 78.77 cents per $100 of assessed property value. Because Carmel’s total assessed value rose 14 percent in the last year, the city can fund the bonds through a 5-cent special benefits tax that will leave the city’s total tax rate flat, according to Heidi Amspaugh, a financial consultant with Bakery Tilly Municipal Advisors.
Overall tax bills, however, are likely to rise for many residents because the assessed values of most Carmel properties increased in the last year. Although the state’s residential tax caps limit some of the increase, the school district referendum is not included in the cap.
The projects eligible for bond funding are:
- The completion of various multi-use paths along existing roads to fill in gaps in the path system
- Monon Square infrastructure improvements
- Ditch Road improvements between 96th and 116th streets
- Roundabout and related improvements at 116th Street and Hoover Road
- Roundabout and related improvements at 126th Street and River Road
- Roundabout and related improvements at 116th Street and River Road
- Roundabout and related improvements at 106th Street and Hazel Dell Road
- Roundabout and north connection and related improvements at Carmel Drive and AAA Way
- Roundabout and related improvements at 116th Street and AAA Way
- Roundabout and related improvements at Merchants Square Drive and AAA Way
- Roundabout and related improvements at 141st Street and Shelborne Road
- Roundabout and related improvements along Pennsylvania Street
- Monon Greenway grade-separated crossings at 96th, 106th, 111th and 136th streets