Bipartisan infrastructure bill to provide Indiana billions for roads, utilities

IN Focus: Indiana Politics

INDIANAPOLIS – Many people involved with construction say the bipartisan infrastructure legislation will make a significant impact on fixing roads and bridges and upgrading Indiana’s utilities.

The bill is expected to be signed into law after it passed the House late Friday night.

Indiana’s two Democratic representatives, André Carson and Frank Mrvan, voted in favor of the bill, while all Republican members of the state’s congressional delegation voted against it.

Several people who work in the construction industry say they believe this kind of legislation was long overdue.

“Indiana has about 1,100 bridges that are in need of repair,” said Brian Gould, executive director of the Build Indiana Council, which represents about 500 construction companies statewide. “We have about 5,500 miles of roadway that are kind of an immediate challenge.”

Gould said he believes the $6.6 billion for road construction and $401 million for bridges from the bipartisan infrastructure bill will make a big impact.

“Unquestionably, this will definitely result in new jobs, increased traffic safety, reduced time waiting in congestion,” he said.

“I can’t tell you how many years I’ve attended infrastructure week in Washington, D.C., under several administrations and several Congresses,” said Richard Hedgecock, president of the trade association Indiana Constructors, Inc.

The legislation also allows projects to get started more quickly, Hedgecock said.

“The language is going to expedite the review and permitting process that can sometimes be very onerous and slow down the construction of projects,” he explained.

According to the White House, Indiana will receive $751 million to improve the state’s water system and $100 million for broadband projects. 

Utility providers say these improvements are greatly needed in some rural areas.

“People that sometimes live just on the outskirts of these towns that don’t have access to clean drinking water or proper wastewater facilities,” said Michael Burrow, president and CEO of NineStar Connect.

“The conversations on our end went from ‘I can’t do Netflix’ and ‘I can’t stream TV’ to ‘I can’t work from home, I can’t do school from home,'” said Rob Ford, communication director for Tipmont and Wintek.

We reached out to several state agencies – including the Indiana Department of Transportation, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission and the lieutenant governor’s office, but they declined our requests for interviews.

INDOT sent us a statement, which reads: “Through the leadership of Governor Eric Holcomb and state lawmakers, Indiana is in a strong fiscal position and making transformational investments in transportation assets, water systems, and broadband access — infrastructure vital to growing our state’s economy. INDOT will leverage additional resources made available to Indiana through federal legislation to continue taking care of the state’s transportation assets, delivering major projects, and planning for the future.”

The legislation invests in several other areas, including public transportation and electric vehicle charging stations. For more information on the funding Indiana will receive, click here.

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