A hearing this week generated opposition and debate about a
proposed tolled bypass of Indianapolis.
The Indiana House Roads and Transportation Committee has two
hearings left concerning the controversial Indiana Commerce Connector, a
crescent-shaped bypass around eastern Indianapolis that would link to
interstates in six counties.
News agencies around the state reported one of the hearings,
which was Tuesday, March 20 in Martinsville, IN, drew hundreds - many armed
with signs of opposition and a sharp word or two about the proposal.
Gov. Mitch Daniels has proposed a 75-mile 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.
Landowners lined up at the podium to call down the plan,
saying the connector would eat up valuable farm land and allow a private
developer to profit on tolls.
The Indiana House is considering a bill that has already
passed the state Senate as SB1. It would authorize the Commerce Connector - and
another proposal called the Illiana Expressway - to be built with private
funds. Private investors would then keep the tolls and profit from the roadways
for a specified time period.
The House committee has had three hearings so far with two
left to go. The final two are scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, March 26, at
Franklin College in Franklin, IN; and 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 28, at Greenfield-Central
High School, 810 N. Broadway, Greenfield, IN.
The Indiana Commerce Connector is proposed to assume tolls
that would have otherwise been implemented on I-69 as part of Daniels' Major
Moves transportation plan signed into law in 2006.
It was that same Major Moves plan that saw private investors
from Spain and Australia lease the Indiana Toll Road for $3.85 billion for the
next 75 years.
- By David Tanner,