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October 7, 2013

Hitting the road: Final stretch of new highway opening soon

Final stretch of Hoosier Heartland highway to open soon

After about 30 years, it’s the end of the road for the Ind. 25 Hoosier Heartland Highway Corridor project. But for the highway itself, it’s just the beginning.

Ind. Gov. Mike Pence will speak at a ribbon cutting ceremony at Ivy Tech Community College Oct. 23 celebrating the conclusion of the segment of the project spanning between Logansport and Delphi. It is the final leg of the project, which replaces Ind. 25 with a four-lane limited access highway connecting Lafayette to Fort Wayne, ultimately connecting to U.S. 24.

After preliminary studies were conducted in the 1980s, the project started coming to fruition in 2006 through $383 million made possible from then-Gov. Mitch Daniels’ Major Moves program, which committed a total of $2.6 billion from the long-term lease of the Indiana Toll Road toward 104 new roadways by 2015 with 1,600 lane miles.

Tom Weatherwax, a former Indiana state senator and current president of the Hoosier Heartland Industrial Corridor Association, credits Daniels’ program as the driving force behind the road’s completion.

“For 35, 40 years, the only way you could do anything was to get money from Congress to build a little here, a little there and piece it together like a chain,” he said. “Until Major Moves came along.”

The former administration along with what Weatherwax described as a “grassroots effort” made up of officials of the cities and counties the new road would run through turned the three-decade dream into a reality.

“We had each county and city involved trying to make this happen,” he said.

Weatherwax said the next project will be marketing the highway in the hopes of attracting businesses to develop the land along it.

“Safety is the number one thing you build roads for,” he said. “Economic development and jobs is second.”

The Cass-Logansport Economic Development Organization is currently helping work toward this goal, said John Hipskind, the organization’s interim director.

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