Chesterton Tribune

HEC: I-69 will take 20 percent of Indiana highway funds

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The Hoosier Environmental Council (HEC) Monday released a policy paper detailing the fiscal shortfalls of the I-69 construction project.

HEC has been a 20-year critic of the I-69 project citing damaging environmental impacts; however, this new study focuses on the what HEC says is a disproportionate percentage of available funding dedicated to the project and what that means for other road and bridge funding needs throughout Indiana.

“The new terrain I-69 highway will eat up one-fifth of available highway construction and maintenance funding in 2012 to 2014,” HEC said in a press release. “In 2013 alone, the highway will consume nearly 30 percent of Indiana’s highway funds. The disproportionate percentage means many projects throughout the rest of Indiana will be stuck in ‘shovel ready’ mode.”

“Dedicating 20 percent of the available Traditional Funding to one project will imperil the state’s ability to fulfill its responsibility to provide safe and reliable transportation solutions to other areas of Indiana,” said Tim Maloney, HEC senior policy director.

INDOT plans to complete the first three sections of I-69, from Evansville to Crane Naval Surface Warfare Center, due to a one-time cash outlay from the lease of the Indiana toll road, which diverted toll revenue from northern to southern Indiana.

Those funds will be exhausted before construction can begin on Section 4 of the project, from Crane to Bloomington, the study said.

INDOT has not identified any other specific “innovative” financing sources to pay for I-69, according to the department’s 2030 Long Range Transportation Plan and Draft 2035 Long Range Transportation Plan. Coupled with the steady decline in annual Indiana gas tax revenue – now 11% lower than in 2005 – future funding for I-69 can only be assured if road and bridge repairs elsewhere in the state are cut back. 

Maloney said that a cost-effective and environmentally preferred alternative exists. “I-69 is not a ‘done deal’ despite the construction that has already taken place. An alternative route along U.S. 41/I-70 is already halfway built.”

The alternative route has been deemed environmentally preferred by the U.S. Department of Interior (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.

The Alarming Rise of Indiana Transportation Funding Dedicated to I-69 transportation policy paper is at:

http://hecweb.org/

http://alternativei69.org/

Founded in 1983, the Hoosier Environmental Council (HEC) is the largest, statewide environmental organization in Indiana.

 

 

 

Posted 8/9/2011