INDIANAPOLIS | Northwest Indiana will not directly benefit from the road funding legislation signed by Gov. Mike Pence last week in Valparaiso.
On Thursday, Pence directed his State Budget Agency to release the first half of those funds — $200 million — to the Indiana Department of Transportation to add lanes on Interstate 65 through Lafayette and between Indianapolis and Franklin.
If Pence chooses in December to spend the remaining $200 million, that money will go toward additional lanes on Interstate 65 south of Lafayette and near Louisville, Ky., as well as additional lanes on Interstate 69 northeast of Indianapolis, according to INDOT.
"I'm absolutely convinced that if you're going to be the Crossroads of America you better have the roads to back it up," Pence said during a ceremonial re-signing of House Enrolled Act 1002 at the INDOT Traffic Management Center.
Spending the $400 million in previously set-aside funds is expected to create or support some 9,800 jobs, free up other state funds designated for those projects and enable Indiana to leverage additional road construction money from the federal government.
State Rep. Ed Soliday, R-Valparaiso, the sponsor of the law, said at least a portion of that money eventually will go toward adding a lane in both directions on Interstate 65 between Merrillville and Lowell as part of the larger Illiana Expressway project.
Pence was noncommittal when asked if the 2016-17 state budget he'll propose next year will include additional funding for highway construction beyond regular INDOT appropriations.