New Indiana law provides boost to major road work

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Monday, March 31, 2014

Major road projects in Indiana will soon get a boost from action at the statehouse to release $200 million for transportation projects.

The road funding boost comes less than a decade after then-Gov. Mitch Daniels leased the Indiana Toll Road for 75 years in return for $3.85 billion. The money has essentially run dry because it was either spent or is due to be spent for specific projects.

As a result, Indiana is once again relying on the state’s 18-cent-per-gallon fuel tax to get needed transportation work done.

Gov. Mike Pence signed a bill into law to make $200 million available for interstate improvements. The amount made available from HB1002 is half as much as he sought from the General Assembly.

“House Bill 1002 is a step toward addressing several of Indiana’s immediate infrastructure needs,” Rep. Ed Soliday, R-Valparaiso, said in a recent news release.

State lawmakers voted to release the money from the state’s general fund for major highway projects. A Senate panel cut in half the $400 million sought by the governor. The other $200 million could be tapped by state lawmakers next year when working on the new two-year budget.

In 2013, state lawmakers voted to set aside $400 million for future projects. The governor called for legislators to release the money now to the Indiana Department of Transportation to take advantage of current construction costs before inflation reduces the value.

INDOT is proposing to use the money for projects that include adding lanes to Interstates 65, 69 and 70 in certain areas.

The governor said the bill enhances the state’s position as the “Crossroads of America.”

“This legislation will create an estimated 9,800 jobs and will expand the state’s lane capacity on major highways in Indiana,” Pence stated.

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