Final leg of I-69 to be completed 3 years earlier, governor announces

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MARTINSVILLE, Ind. (WISH) — The final leg of a project to extend I-69 from Indianapolis and Evansville will be finished three years earlier than planned under a program announced Tuesday by Gov. Eric Holcomb. 

The Republican said Tuesday that the money will come from a renegotiated agreement with the company that operates the Indiana Toll Road. Under the new terms, additional fees will be tacked onto heavy-duty vehicles that have three or more axles. Holcomb stressed that the new fees will not be charged to drivers of passenger cars.

About $600 million will go toward speeding up completion of Section 6 of Interstate 69 from Martinsville to Indianapolis. That project was originally set to be completed in 2027.

In addition, an additional $190 million will eliminate stoplights on U.S. 31 between South Bend and Indianapolis plus made improvements to U.S. 20 and U.S. 30.

Additional money from The Next Level Connections program will be used to boost broadband access in rural areas, improve Indiana’s hiking trails and bike lanes, add more nonstop flights at Indianapolis International Airport, complete an evaulation for a fourth port on the Ohio river, and pursue federal funding for commuter rail projects in northwest Indiana.

Statements on the program

From state Sen. Rodric Bray, R-Martinsville:

“Dependable infrastructure contributes greatly to Indiana’s economy and quality of life for our citizens. Ensuring our state has sound transportation and broadband systems is key as we work to continue attracting businesses and talent to our state, and I applaud the governor’s focus on this important issue.”

From state Sen. David Niezgodski, D-South Bend:

“Although I was in support of Indiana’s recent 20-year infrastructure plan, I am hesitant to give my support to this newest development because there was zero transparency involved. There was no process of vetting funding options and I would have appreciated a phone call from the governor as this new plan will most certainly affect my district.

“My biggest concern is that we have no idea of the effect this 35-percent increase in tolls for heavy vehicles will have on industries within the toll road corridor or upon the employees who work for them. Legislators and industry officials were supposed to study this issue thoroughly and weren’t given that opportunity. It is unknown just how this rate increase will impact local, Hoosier businesses versus out-of-state companies. The potential to adversely affect our state’s businesses with little-to-no say from anyone who will be directly impacted, at the very least, appears shortsighted.”

From Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch:

“The five agencies I oversee, Indiana State Department of Agriculture, Indiana Office of Tourism Development, Office of Community and Rural Affairs, Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority and Indiana Office of Defense Development are all directly impacted by the Next Level Connections program. Having spent the majority of the last two years speaking with Hoosiers in our rural communities, I know how vital it is that we have a solid infrastructure, and more than that, high-speed reliable Internet.

“Coming from Evansville, I have a real appreciation for the importance of connecting Hoosiers to other parts of the state, and know we are all an important part of Indiana. I look forward to working with our governor, partners and community providers to continue improving our state’s quality of place.”

From House Speaker Brian C. Bosma, R-Indianapolis:

“Today’s announcement underscores Gov. Eric Holcomb’s commitment to making our state an attractive destination for workers and businesses alike. I look forward to working with the governor to help build connections for all Hoosiers through supporting strong policies that solidify Indiana’s position as the economic powerhouse of the Midwest.” 

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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