Our interstate, national and state highways carry millions of people through and across Indiana each year. Those roadways form the physical connections among our communities.
Not just people, but dollars. One state legislator says “half a trillion dollars of goods” pass over those roads and bridges each year. Even a cursory glance at the continuous traffic on Interstate 70, U.S. 41 and U.S. 40 in the Terre Haute area makes that a believable approximation.
That makes good news of Gov. Mike Pence’s action on Thursday, when he told the State Budget Agency to release $200 million for funding road projects that can be bulldozer-ready in about a year.
That $200 million was part of a bill — now law — in the 2014 Indiana General Assembly that set aside $400 million in extra highway funds to supplement other, more regular funding. The second half of that $400 million will not be released until a review of the status of state revenues in December.
That first $200 million is being targeted, at Pence’s direction, for work on Interstate 65. Lanes would be added to that highly traveled road between Indiana 44 near Franklin and Southport Road in Indianapolis, and between Indiana highways 38 and 26 near Lafayette.
The second outlay of $200 million, if it is released, would expand I-65 from Indiana 26 to Indiana 25 near Lafayette, I-65 in Clark County and Interstate 69 from Indiana 37 in Fishers to Indiana 13 south of Anderson.
While we in Terre Haute will be happy for those living, working and traveling along those interstates, we also are eager to get ours. Interstate 70 — as anyone who drives it knows — urgently needs three-laning.
Fortunately, an influential Republican, state Sen. Luke Kenley, favors a six-laned I-70 from the Illinois state line all the way to Ohio. That may be years away and — at $200 million a year — take multiple appropriations if that set-aside highway funding can be continued.