ALBION — The 5-mile stretch of Old S.R. 3 from Avilla to LaOtto is going to be getting a much needed facelift in 2026 thanks to federal aid money, the Indiana Department of Transportation and the Noble County Highway Department.
The Indiana Department of Transportation announced Monday that $100.8 million in federal transportation funding is being awarded to 54 cities, towns and counties in rural portions of Indiana to invest in local road and bridge improvements as well as sidewalk and trail projects. Combined with local funds, approximately $124.9 million is being invested in infrastructure in communities receiving funds.
Noble County was awarded $4,587,200 for the Old S.R. 3 project.
“I’m a bit surprised,” Noble County Highway Department Engineer Zack Smith said. “It was very competitive.”
Projects totaling $400 million were submitted, vying for the $100 million available.
For this latest round of funding, rural communities will design, develop and purchase land for projects that would be bid during the fiscal year beginning July 2025. While the funds awarded now are dedicated to construction, INDOT will be financially participating in design, engineering and right of way acquisition components of these projects.
With those costs added, the total project will be $6.339 million, according to Smith, with Noble County responsible for $1.267 million. The county’s portion will come from the department’s MVH fund.
Construction is likely to begin on the projects in 2026.
“Local transportation improvements are critical to growing and enhancing Indiana’s communities,” INDOT Commissioner Joe McGuinness said. “Our sustained commitment to modernizing local roads and bridges, adding sidewalks, and growing our trail networks sends a clear message that we’re building cities, towns and counties that are primed to attract and retain talent and spur job growth in the 21st century economy.”
Old S.R. 3 is a popular local route for drivers heading south out of Avilla, but the roadway in that area has suffered from some uneven settling, which is causing cracks in the roadway that can’t simply be repaired by laying new asphalt.
The county recently designated that stretch of road as a “primary collector,” a main route that carries higher traffic counts.
Near as Smith can figure, the state gave Noble County responsibility for maintenance of the old state road in the 1990s.
Currently, traffic counts average about 2,000 vehicles per day, with more closer to Avilla than out in the country, Smith said.
The work on the road will involved milling 4 1/2 inches off the top of the surface. Once that layer has been removed, contractors will install 1 1/2 inches of leveling asphalt, then install a thin fiberglass pavement grid which should strengthen the roadway. That will be followed up by 1 1/2 inches of binder and 1/ 1/2 inches of surface material.
“You’re going to have a much better road surface,” Smith said.