Infrastructure

The first stop in our series on the Ports of Indiana was Burns Harbor, an international maritime facility in the heart of steel country. Four hours down Interstate 65, the Port of Jeffersonville is less a port and more a manufacturing hub that happens to be on the Ohio River.

For the next part of our series, Indiana Public Broadcasting’s Annie Ropeik reports Jeffersonville is pushing ahead with expansions to cement its place in the Midwest industrial corridor.

Indiana’s ports move millions of tons each year of the stuff that’s made and used at Midwest factories, including steel, grains and coal. The three ports – one on Lake Michigan and two on the Ohio River – connect Indiana to the national and global economies, and each has to find its own ways to keep up with change.

For the first part of a three-part series, we visited the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor to see how it’s secured its place in the steel industry.

Indiana has agreed to buy Ohio River-front land in Lawrenceburg that could house the state’s fourth port.

The state has been considering using the 725 acres in southeast Indiana as its next port facility for nearly a year.

Now, it’s inked an agreement to purchase the site, pending further study. Gov. Eric Holcomb’s office says the agreement will let port officials “begin studies to examine the economic and environmental viability of the parcel.”

Indiana’s three ports had their second-best start to the year ever in 2017.

Burns Harbor, Mt. Vernon and Jeffersonville moved 19 percent more cargo in the first six months of this year than at the same time in 2016 – 5.7 million tons overall.

Almost two-thirds of that went through the southwest port of Mt. Vernon, in the form of bulk cargoes – things like coal, ethanol, fertilizer and minerals, which get transferred between railcars, river barges and trucks.

Indiana closed its fiscal year – which ended on June 30th – with a budget surplus of $42 million.

The state also closed with a reserve of $1.77 billion. That’s about $400 million less than the year before.

Office of Management and Budget Director Micah Vincent says the decline was caused by the state’s new long-term road funding plan.

Stan Jastrzebski / WBAA News

When, earlier this week, a train derailed in downtown Crawfordsville, it brought to a head some of the concerns Mayor Todd Barton has lodged with the railroads that crisscross his city.

Sure, the tracks caused regular traffic jams before, and city leaders have long hoped for a railroad relocation project, but was this week’s incident the locomotive that broke the camel’s back?

We talk about that incident on this week’s Ask The Mayor program.

Road construction season is underway, and after state lawmakers allocated more money for local roads, House Speaker Brian Bosma says communities should see a big season.

“We want them to start smelling asphalt in July,” Bosma said after unveiling the road funding package in April.

Indiana’s local communities will receive at least $200 million for roads and bridges in the state’s new infrastructure funding package.

A who’s-who of Midwest business leaders met in Indianapolis Thursday to talk about their stake in fixing updating the nation’s aging transportation system.

Many say Indiana’s plans for road repairs should stand as a national, multi-modal example.

Ports of Indiana CEO Rich Cooper, who helped host the roundtable discussion, says the state and national economies rely on more than ships and barges. Changes at one part of the system, he says, have huge ripple effects on the rest.

Chris Morisse Vizza/WBAA Radio

Two different messages delivered just one day apart at Purdue University’s annual “Road School” appear to indicate a disconnect between Governor Eric Holcomb and Holcomb’s newly appointed Indiana Department of Transportation Commissioner Joe McGuinness.

McGuinness, who served five years as Mayor of Franklin, says he’s a local-minded person.

House GOP Rolls Out Road Funding Plan

Jan 4, 2017

 

House Republicans unveiled their road funding proposal and the proposed first steps would cover less than half of the state’s needs.

House Speaker Brian Bosma says Indiana needs an average of about $1.2 billion a year over the next 20 years for its roads. His caucus’ plan would immediately raise all fuel taxes by 10 cents to begin working toward that goal. Bosma says the House GOP plan would also create a new $15 annual fee on all vehicles.

“So, adding the registration fee and the gas tax – for the average Hoosier, $5 per month,” Bosma says.

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