Greensburg, In. — Many drivers have started to encounter orange barrels, closed road signs and construction crews in our area. All of this is the beginning phase of Indiana’s five-year ‘Next Level Roads’ initiative. Even though construction means closures and traffic delays, let’s look down the road to a smoothly paved future benefiting Hoosier communities.
Over the next five years, we will be resurfacing crumbling roads, installing traffic signals and rehabilitating bridges. In fact, more than $200 million is being invested in local road and bridge improvements throughout Dearborn, Decatur, Jefferson, Jennings, Ohio, Ripley and Switzerland counties, and this does not include the Community Crossings Matching Grants that have yet to be distributed to our local communities. These grants will further help Indiana cities, towns and counties with covering the costs of infrastructure projects.
Recently, I joined local officials for the groundbreaking of a two-year, $70 million project that will reconstruct I-74 from State Road 101 in Ripley County to the New Point exit in Decatur County. It was a great honor to be a part of this groundbreaking, as I remember when I-74 was first built. This stretch of roadway connecting Indianapolis to Cincinnati is crucial not only for the Hoosier state, but to local communities benefiting from easy access to the interstate and economic opportunities for our towns.
I have spoken with many local officials who seem to pose the same questions: Who decides where the road funding money goes and what projects will be completed? These are valid questions, and I can tell you that the Indiana Department of Transportation decides where the money should go based on the infrastructure needs of each county.
INDOT follows federal guidelines by keeping detailed reports from engineer inspections of each of Indiana’s 6,000 bridges. All of these bridges are scheduled for routine upkeep based on the life expectancy of the bridge. Recently, one of our local bridges on Highway 421 failed inspection. This bridge had a broken center beam, which made it unsafe for motorists to drive on. While this was a bridge set to be fixed down the road, INDOT had to act more swiftly and rehabilitate the bridge due to safety risks.
Although construction zones can be frustrating, they will be worth the hassle. Upgrading our infrastructure will not only save Hoosier drivers money, it will make our roads safer and keep our economy strong.
As the projects continue, we need to focus on safety in construction zones. In 2014, 14 people were killed and 400 injured working on Hoosier roadways. Please keep in mind these safety tips while traveling through work zones: reduce speed, respect the flaggers, allow for extra travel time, be patient, leave space between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you, don’t text or talk on the phone and pay attention to construction signage.
As always, please contact me with questions or input at 317-234-3827 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I appreciate hearing from you in order to better represent our district. Stay up-to-date with the work being done at the Statehouse by signing up to receive my email updates at www.in.gov/h67.