Inside INdiana Business is reporting that Governor Eric Holcomb has unveiled plans for the state to spend $1 billion in infrastructure projects that he says will improve quality of life throughout the state. Holcomb’s “Next Level Connections” program focuses on speeding up major road projects, increasing broadband access, improving the state’s trail system, attracting more international flights, continuing work on a potential fourth port and pushing West Lake rail service and South Shore double-tracking projects. He says it will be funded through a one-time toll increase on heavy vehicles.
The road project element includes investing $600 million to finish the I-69 expansion project three years earlier, moving the completion date from 2027 to 2024. It also involves nearly $200 million to make improvements to US 20, US 30 and US 31, including resurfacing, bridge improvements and new interchanges.
Holcomb is also planning an investment of about $100 million to bring affordable high-speed, fiber optic broadband access to underserved communities in the state. The effort will include matching grant opportunities for providers to bring service to those areas.
The $90 million trail effort focuses on walking and biking paths throughout the state. The Department of Natural Resources says it wants a trail within five miles of every Hoosier by 2020.
The plan also calls on the state to invest about $20 million to work to establish additional international nonstop flights to and from Indianapolis, with specific targets in the Mexico City and Asia Pacific markets. Holcomb says he wants to make Indianapolis International Airport the “preferred airport” of the Midwest.
Holcomb’s plan also involves continuing work on a potential fourth port. The state previously entered into an $8 million land purchase option agreement for a site in Lawrenceburg. The governor says a fourth port would connect southeast Indiana to more development opportunities and strengthen the position of the Ports of Indiana.
Finally, the plan involves the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District, Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority and the Indiana Finance Authority partnering to pursue West Lake rail service and the South Shore double-tracking projects. The West Lake effort would create commuter South Shore rail service from Hammond to Dyer. The second project involves double-track express service from Hammond to Michigan City.