What does a new highway mean to us? I have fielded that question recently from some people who are skeptical of the importance of the Hoosier Heartland Corridor (U.S. 24). The new highway was opened with much fanfare and speeches predicting economic development and job creation. It was 30 years in the making, and it wouldn’t have been possible without the funding from Major Moves.
In 1996, the Indiana Department of Transportation had built two bridges for the highway and was working to complete the corridor in piecemeal fashion. Following the construction of the bridges, they were coined the “bridges to nowhere.” I actually gave a speech on one of the bridges discussing the economic impact of having the corridor completed. We were trying to find additional funding for the project, and Major Moves eventually became that answer. The bridges to nowhere became bridges to everywhere.
Construction of the new U.S. 24 has already created thousands of jobs; engineers, operators, truckers, mechanics, laborers and more have had years of steady employment as they worked on the project. Their wages certainly improved and helped to maintain the local economy.
Vendors who provided equipment, trucks, fuel and aggregate also benefited from the project. The new highway has already been a job creator. Now the economic developers and site selectors have a new area to survey and assess for business development.
It is difficult to predict what may happen, but certainly businesses that rely on transportation of products will consider a location on the HHC. Perhaps a manufacturer will be interested because of the new infrastructure, or maybe retailers or warehouses; the list is endless. Many good things can come from the new highway.
One of the most obvious benefits to everyone is a much safer highway to travel and a shorter time to make the trip. The safety of motorists should be noted as one of the biggest accomplishments of this new highway. Lives will be saved because it was built.
There are, no doubt, intangibles that we can think of as benefits. Let’s say that just as in the movie Field of Dreams, “If you build it, they will come!” I believe that development and jobs will come.
Thank you to everyone who has expressed concern about my case of the shingles. I have discovered a whole society of people who have had the disease. This is now the sixth week, and I am feeling much better. My ophthalmologist released me and said my eye would be back to normal. The lesions and bumps on my scalp are improving. To say the least, this has been a very humbling experience and one to learn from. Again, I would urge each of you reading this column to at least investigate the shingles vaccine. It could be a real benefit!
Thanks for the communications. It is your government.
State Rep. Bill Friend (R-Macy) represents Indiana's House District 23. Visit his office's website at www.in.gov/h23.