INDOT scraps Link 101 road project • Indiana Capital Chronicle

Gov. Eric Holcomb's $200 million Link 101 road project is not moving forward, at least not in its original form, after a bleak cost-benefit analysis and continued public opposition.

The Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) announced Wednesday that it has pulled the plug on the project designed to better connect southeastern Indiana after completing its evaluation of alternative options.

“The milestone was a logical point for a reassessment of this project,” the agency said in a news release, noting that it “continuously reassesses” its priorities.

Senator Jean Leising, R-Oldenburg, speaks in the Senate chamber during the session on Monday, February 5, 2024. (Leslie Bonilla Muñiz/Indiana Capital Chronicle)

The project would have created a new state highway – 101 – running north-south between US 50 and the Markland Dam Bridge on the Ohio River.

Opponents of the project celebrated the news.

Sen. Jean Leising, R-Oldenburg, said Thursday she was “pleased” to learn that INDOT “listened to my concerns and those of community members and canceled the application.” shortcut 101 Corridor Project.”

She first publicly called for the project's cancellation in March, saying at the time: “While I have tried to keep an open mind on this matter, I stand with the many constituents who have come forward to express their concerns about the project's impact on the project.” “To express our communities and their quality of life.”

Republican gubernatorial candidate Jamie Reitenour, a conservative activist, said the project was an example of “overreach and poor planning.”

Ultra-conservative Jamie Reitenour, a gubernatorial candidate, may not appear on several event stages in the next few weeks. (Whitney Downard/Indiana Capital Chronicle)

“They wanted to build a highway, estimated to cost $200 million, to save 6 to 8 minutes of travel time. This highway targeted a fertile land area in Indiana, took over generational farms and homesteads, and clearly had no popular support,” Reitenour said in a news release Wednesday.

“When I met with the hard-working residents who have been protesting against this highway for months, they were distraught and discouraged, but they wouldn't give up! I applaud their Hoosier determination!” she added.

The agency's next steps

INDOT cited rising construction costs as the main reason for the cancellation: over $450 million, a significant increase from the $200 million estimate originally announced in 2021. The agency said rising material and labor costs were a factor, as well as “challenging terrain.”

The agency said the costly project would have been underutilized, noting that “reduced traffic volumes limit the overall benefit to users.”

“There was also widespread opposition to the project, both in public meetings and through the project's communication channels,” the agency further admitted.

Instead, INDOT said it will prioritize existing roads in the area.

This could take the form of Alternatives K or L, two other versions of the project presented in an April 2024 preliminary alternatives screening report.

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The first option would cover seven miles on the existing road with a 45 mph speed limit and 12 miles on a new road with a 55 mph speed limit. Remedial measures such as 4-foot-wide shoulders and “design exceptions” would be required for an estimated 28 locations along the route.

The second would run only on existing state highways, with no new roads, mostly with a speed limit of 45 miles per hour; Areas with higher limit values ​​would remain so. Most of the route already has 1.20 m long shoulders; INDOT would widen an area to make room for the shoulders and reconstruct a one-mile section of State Route 129 where “the existing alignment cannot be restored” to a speed limit of 45 mph.

Both were developed based on public input to “reduce the impact on the rural environment of the project area,” the report says.

INDOT said it will reprioritize funds allocated to the project “statewide, including in southeastern Indiana.”

Leising said she hopes the agency will “rethink” and use the funds exclusively to improve existing infrastructure in the region.


Anna Harden

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