Public hearings set on proposed tolled bypass around Indianapolis

| 3/12/2007

Public comments about a proposed tolled bypass around Indianapolis will be accepted at a series of upcoming field hearings in Indiana.

The Indiana House Roads and Transportation Committee has scheduled five public hearings in March on the proposed Indiana Commerce Connector, a crescent-shaped bypass around eastern Indianapolis that would link to interstates in six counties.

Gov. Mitch Daniels has proposed the tolled bypass of Indianapolis as a trade-off for keeping the entire length of a proposed extension of Interstate 69 toll-free from Indianapolis to Evansville, IN.

The Indiana state Senate approved a bill in February - SB1 - but the bill's future is not known in the Democrat-controlled House.

The first hearing on the 75-mile Indiana Commerce Connector proposal is 6 p.m. Thursday, March 15, at Pendleton Heights High School at 1 Arabian Drive in Pendleton, IN.

Other hearings, all starting at 6 p.m. local time, are:

  • March 20 at the Morgan County Fairgrounds Community Building, 1749 Hospital Drive, Martinsville, IN.
  • March 22 at Indiana Downs, 4200 N. Michigan Road, Shelbyville, IN.
  • March 26 at Franklin College in Franklin, IN, in a building to be named.
  • March 28 at Greenfield-Central High School, 810 N. Broadway, Greenfield, IN.

Daniels proposed the bypass to be "financed, designed, built and maintained with private funds, not tax dollars, and operated under contract as a toll road," according to an Indiana Department of Transportation fact sheet.

The proposed I-69 extension to Evansville is being pursued as a privatized highway, and includes a provision for tolls along some segments.

The bill passed by the Senate would transfer those plans for privatization to the Indiana Commerce Connector and keep the I-69 extension toll free, INDOT officials stated.

With the bypass proposed to assume the tolls and bring in an up-front fee from private investors, the future extension of I-69 extension would then be built as a public asset including $700 million from Daniels' Major Moves transportation plan.

It was that same Major Moves plan that saw private investors lease the 157-mile Indiana Toll Road for $3.85 billion for the next 75 years.