The state of Indiana has committed $475 million for what it calls “transformational” road infrastructure projects throughout the state.
Gov. Eric Holcomb announced the state would commit $75 million for improvements to 48 miles of U.S. 231, $200 million for a 25-mile extension of State Road 101 and $200 million to the Indiana approach to the Interstate 69 Ohio River Crossing.
“Indiana’s location and extensive transportation network make our state one of the most attractive places in the country to do business and create jobs,” Holcomb said in a press release. “These projects will better connect our communities, enhance commerce within and beyond our borders and deliver value for Hoosiers for generations to come.”
U.S. 231 IMPROVEMENTS
The $75 million allocation will add travel lanes, passing lanes and intersection improvements to “strategic locations” in the 48-mile corridor of U.S. 231 between Interstate 64 near Dale and I-64 near Crane.
The project, expected to begin in 2022, will take place on a section of U.S. 231 that could be part of a proposed Mid-States Corridor, a cross-state highway that would connect portions of southwestern Indiana to I-69.
The exact location of the corridor is expected to be finalized this fall.
Critics of the project said it could destroy some of the most pristine wilderness in the state and potentially harm and threaten endangered species that live along the proposed corridor routes.
STATE ROAD 101 EXTENSION
Holcomb allocated $200 million to accomplish an extension of State Road 101 envisioned since at least 1990.
The funding will provide a direct connection from Switzerland County communities to Interstate 71 and Interstate 74 and provide a new cross-river route for freight traffic through southeast Indiana.
An environmental assessment found that the extension would mostly occur through forested areas considered “one of the best remaining natural landscapes in the state of Indiana” by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said the development of a new highway corridor in Switzerland County could degrade or eliminate some plant and animal habitats.
Initial planning for the extension will begin within the next year, according to the Governor’s Office.
INTERSTATE 69 OHIO RIVER CROSSING APPROACH
Holcomb committed $200 million to the Indiana approach portion of the I-69 Ohio River Crossing.
The money will only partially fund the $1.2 billion joint Kentucky-Indiana project that will eventually connect I-69 in the two states through a new bridge that will replace the “Twin Bridges” of U.S.41.
The project will be completed in two parts, the first of which will be done completely in Kentucky and will cost $237 million.
The second part, estimated to total $975 million between the two states, will extend from U.S.60 in Kentucky, over the Ohio River and stop at the Veterans Memorial Parkway in Evansville.
The $200 million commitment would only go towards the 1.5-mile new-terrain Indiana portion of the approach to the as-yet-undesigned I-69 bridge.
Some trails groups in Indiana were concerned that project documentation indicated that project officials did not intend to include access for disabled Hoosiers or cyclists in potential designs for the bridge.
Between Evansville and Jeffersonville, about a dozen bridges span the Ohio River, but only several bridges connecting Jeffersonville and Louisville, Kentucky allow pedestrians and cyclists to cross safely.
Indiana Department of Transportation officials said the bridge design could be finalized as early as this Fall.
Funding for the infrastructure projects comes from the $60 billion Next Levels Roads program.