Governor visits Fort Wayne: champions road enhancements state's - ABC21: Your Weather Authority

Governor visits Fort Wayne: champions road enhancements state's pursuing over two decades

Posted: Updated:

Celebrating a historic investment in Indiana's network of roads.     

Governor Eric Holcomb made a stop in Fort Wayne Monday, talking up the benefits of a $4.7 billion infrastructure plan for the state over the next five years.

It raises questions about how the work will be done and how it will be paid for.

A series of improvements at the tricky connection of U.S. 30 and U.S. 33 on the far northwest side of town is showing real progress.

The overhaul figures to make travel simpler and safer on the busy section of roadway.

Governor Eric Holcomb, Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry and several state lawmakers came to the spot before noon, saying this is a preview of coming attractions across all 92 counties.

In northeast Indiana alone, $310-million worth of road upgrades and bridge repairs will be rolled out over the next five years.

"This ‘Next Level’ roads plan is going to allow us to take Indiana--our products, our services, and our talent--to the rest of the country, to the rest of the world like never before," the Republican governor said.

Much of the money for the work comes from a recent 10-cent hike in the state's gasoline tax.

"I initially was reluctant to support this effort," said Indiana State Senator Dennis Kruse from Auburn, who eventually backed the tax hike, saying it took tire blowouts on his car and his wife's due to potholes to help him see the light.

"I think a lot of people have had wheel alignments and all those problems, so I think when we have better roads that will eliminate a lot of those maintenance costs with our vehicles," Kruse said.

In Allen County, $83-million over five years will be spent on stretches of Interstate 69, I-469, and a host of other major highways.

The governor is convinced the aggressive roads plan is the only way to go.

"I've traveled this state a lot, I've not found a money tree and I don't like paying taxes either, but you pay for what you get, and you get what you don't pay for," he said, suggesting road problems multiply when improvements don’t take place.

Besides gas tax revenues, decision makers in Indianapolis are becoming more open to the idea of turning more of Indiana's interstates into toll roads.

Making I-69 a toll road-- that's not being given serious consideration right now, but the legislature has authorized cost studies be taken on, to see whether there's merit to charging tolls on Interstates 65, 70 and 94.

"What would this look like, is it a feasible toll and is it necessary, so that's...we're all anxious, unfortunately studies take time and we want to make sure we do it right," said INDOT Commissioner Joe McGuinness.

The broader road and bridge plan for Indiana carries out to 20 years, with a $32-billion price tag.

Money for the roads plan is also coming from a diesel tax hike and increase in vehicle fees.

Powered by Frankly