Indiana Department of Transportation

Robert Carr / https://www.flickr.com/photos/myconstructionphotos/1525875787/

Nearly 3,000 highway engineers and contractors are on the Purdue campus to learn the latest innovations in building cost-effective, long-lasting roads, highways and bridges.

But, before the technical workshops about pavement preservation and culvert installation began Tuesday, attendees heard from one of the men who is determining how to generate the more than $1 billion additional dollars needed in each of the next 20 years to shore up the state’s crumbling roads and bridges.  

Marc Magliari, Amtrak

Amtrak ramped up its services Wednesday when it resumed complete control of all facets of the Hoosier State train that runs eight times a week between Indianapolis and Chicago.

The arrival of Amtrak’s high profile dome car, food service, business class and free Wi-Fi signal local, state and federal leaders are focused on maintaining revenue gains achieved after the state hired a private contractor to market and improve the money-losing service.

Chris Morisse Vizza

Results are mixed one year into a two-year partnership involving the state, Amtrak, a private contractor and communities served by the Hoosier State passenger train.

The state’s goal has been to improve the route, attract more riders and generate more revenue to make the four-times-a-week round-trip service between Indianapolis and Chicago more self-sufficient.

WBAA’s Chris Morisse Vizza assess the progress thus far, and whether it’s enough to win continued funding from Indiana legislators.

Chris Morisse Vizza

Access to Lafayette’s Columbian Park at South Street will significantly change next year in an effort to make the three-way intersection with Park Avenue and Scott Street safer for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers.

Assistant city engineer Bob Foley says Scott Street will be closed permanently at South Street, eliminating the awkward angled junction with South just a few feet west of Park Avenue.

“It creates confusion with two roads intercepting at such a diagonal in such proximity to each other,” he says.

Kara B / https://www.flickr.com/photos/ladywings/

An 11th-hour federal transportation bill the president signed last month adds $50 million in annual federal funds each year to Indiana’s transportation budget, but some people say that money might not make much of a difference in solving the state’s maintenance needs.

The bill, called the FAST Act, gives Indiana a billion dollars annually through 2020. INDOT spokesman Will Wingfield says it’s the first long-term transportation bill the federal government has released in years.

Robert Carr / https://www.flickr.com/photos/myconstructionphotos/1525875787/

Indiana Fourth District U.S. Representative Todd Rokita says the federal highway bill recently passed by Congress provides reliability in funding and eliminates stress for states and contractors as they plan to upgrade and maintain roads.

 

 The bill provides five years of funding with more than $5 billion for Indiana.

 Rokita, a member of the House Transportation Committee, says the federal highway bill is paid for without gimmicks, relying mostly on the gasoline tax, with some alternative revenue streams that include funds from the Federal Reserve. 

Dave Dugdale / https://www.flickr.com/photos/davedugdale/

Indiana’s 2015 tax amnesty program surpassed its goal of collecting at least $90 million. 

That ensures funding for key state programs, including the Hoosier State passenger train that runs between Indianapolis and Chicago and stops in Lafayette. 

The two-month tax amnesty program generated $100 million from Hoosiers who owed back taxes and repaid them without penalties, interest or fines.  

Delinquent taxpayers have promised an additional $22 million through payment plans that run through June 2016. 

PT Money / ptmoney.com

Hoosier businesses and individuals who owe back taxes to the state will have an opportunity to pay what they owe, without a penalty, this fall. The governor Monday announced a start date for the state’s tax amnesty program.

Indiana conducted its first tax amnesty program in 2005, collecting about $244 million in back taxes.

Those who participated in that program will be ineligible to take advantage of a new tax amnesty window, open from Sept. 15–Nov. 16.

Illiana Expressway Hits New Roadblock

Jun 18, 2015
Kyle May / https://www.flickr.com/photos/kylemay/

A Chicago federal judge has halted plans for the proposed Illiana Expressway. He blocked construction on the highway that would link northwest Indiana with suburban Chicago, citing a misleading environmental impact statement from the Federal Highway Administration. The study’s population projections depended on the assumption the highway would be built.

Jack Snell / https://www.flickr.com/photos/jacksnell707/

Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Indiana, is joining Sen. Dan Coats, R-Indiana, in urging transportation officials to save the Hoosier State Rail Line.

The future of the railroad hangs in the balance after the Federal Rail Administration ruled earlier this month that in order to continue running, the state would have to be classified as a railroad carrier. This designation would expose Indiana to increases in costs and liabilities INDOT has said it could not afford.

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