New bill creates new route to fund Midstate Corridor

Sourced from Dubois County Free Press

A new bill designed to foster regional infrastructure development puts more tools into local efforts to create the Midstate Corridor through Dubois County.

Authored by Representative Mike Braun and Senator Mark Messmer, both of Jasper, Senate Enrolled Act 128 allows Indiana counties or municipalities participating in a Regional Development Authority (RDA) to create a fund specifically for regional infrastructure projects. These projects could include highway or bridge repairs, rail lines, airports, public transportation and other infrastructure improvements.

This is important, according to the bill’s author, as a study conducted by Purdue University has determined that local governments need an additional $775 million annually over the next 10 years just to maintain their current infrastructure.

Under the new law, RDAs would be able to apply for FASTLANE federal grants, which fund road and bridge projects across the country.

Local governments could transfer money out of their general or rainy day funds to support regional infrastructure development. An RDA could also enter into an agreement with the Indiana Department of Transportation to contribute local matching funds to pay for these projects. Braun said pooling local, state and federal resources into regional initiatives should stretch dollars further and complete projects sooner.

“This session, lawmakers set out to pass a long-term, sustainable plan to fund Indiana’s roads and bridges and we were able to achieve that,” Braun said. “In addition to the resources allocated to locals in our road funding plan, this law gives regional areas additional tools to help fund their specific infrastructure projects. By providing new ways for local governments and businesses to have skin in the game, we can encourage them to prioritize projects that have a greater economic or regional impact, while also working to improve the quality of roads and bridges in their areas.”

According to Braun, this law could help jumpstart the Midstate Corridor project through Dubois, Martin and Spencer counties. The Midstate Corridor is a planned interstate-grade highway connecting Interstate 64 to Interstate 69.