Transportation

JW801 / https://www.flickr.com/photos/132926214@N07/21120045540/

A key legislator says a review of whether INDOT contractors have been using substandard asphalt could complicate efforts to increase highway funding.

INDOT instructs contractors to use recycled asphalt, and has been testing samples to see if the recipe is causing roads to deteriorate sooner than they should. Depending on how many roads fail those tests, it could cost the state as much as $71 million in extra repaving costs.

House Roads and Transportation Chairman Ed Soliday (R-Valparaiso) says he's "not super-concerned" about the issue:

Michael Gil / https://www.flickr.com/photos/msvg/4304094088

As Republicans and Democrats argue about the state of Indiana's roads and bridges, a nonpartisan report card is supplying ammo to both sides.

The American Society of Civil Engineers issues a 50-state report card every four years. The last one, from 2013, showed one in six major roads in Indiana in poor condition, the 18th-worst percentage in the country.

The 10-percent of bridges rated structurally deficient is the 22nd-worst.

However, the report card was issued two years ago and is based on data from three years before that.

A Ride Aboard The 'New' Hoosier State Line

Sep 16, 2015
Barbara Brosher / Indiana Public Broadcasting

Indiana’s Hoosier State Line is in its second month under a new operating agreement that promises to provide better service and more amenities to train riders.

After months of negotiations – and talks that dragged on longer than expected -- the state Department of Transportation reached a deal with Amtrak and Iowa Pacific to continue service on the line for at least the next two years.

Indiana Public Broadcasting’s Barbara Brosher took a ride on the train recently to see whether anything has changed, other than the cars and the engines.

State, INDOT Exploring How To Fund 2016 Road Projects

Sep 8, 2015
Lee Cannon / https://www.flickr.com/photos/leecannon/8630689052/

Legislators and Gov. Pence have said they expect an "infrastructure session" next year. But they're still working out how to pay for those projects.

INDOT officials and legislators have warned for years that increased fuel efficiency is reducing the gas tax revenue that has traditionally paid for road maintenance.

Senate Appropriations Chairman Luke Kenley (R-Noblesville) says he doesn't think increasing the tax is the way to make up for it -- he notes electric vehicles don't pay fuel tax at all, and says a funding solution should involve contributions from all vehicles.

INDOT

Drivers were greeted Sunday by a welcome sight -- signs hanging above Interstate 65 proclaiming the highway's northbound lanes now open to traffic moving between Indianapolis and Chicago. 

INDOT closed the interstate's northbound lanes around Lafayette several weeks ago after unsafe conditions were reported on a bridge over Wildcat Creek.

During construction, workers had inserted piles into the sandy soils below. The piles had pierced an artesian well beneath the bridge, making the soil to bubble up and causing the bridge to tilt. 

WFIU Public Radio / https://www.flickr.com/photos/wfiupublicradio/5454447764/

Hoosier Motor Club Spokesman Greg Seiter says gas prices for Labor Day weekend will be the lowest in a decade.

This comes as 35.5 million Americans are expected to travel 50 or more miles during the period of Sept. 3 through Sept 7. Seiter says that's the highest number since Labor Day weekend of 2008.

“Well, it certainly does, for most people, mark the end of the busy summer travel season but this is going to be a busy on,” Seiter says. “We’re looking at a projected number that’s going to be higher than we’ve seen in quite a while.”

John Meyers Pedestrian Bridge
Sarah Fentem / WBAA

The City of Lafayette has been struggling to reopen the John T. Myers pedestrian bridge for the last two months, but has been thwarted by uncooperative weather, structural issues and delivery problems.

Now, it can add sub-par workmanship to that list. Sloppily-made railings for the bridge arrived two weeks ago, and it was immediately apparent they couldn’t be installed until they were repaired, pushing the opening date to mid-October at the earliest.

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

The I-65 closure is affecting other construction projects in the state. If the bridge doesn't open by INDOT's projected date in mid-September, at least one other interstate project will be pushed back.

INDOT has said the I-65 bridge will reopen in mid-September. But crews are waiting to resurface a section of I-74 in Eastern Montgomery County until then.

INDOT Crawfordsville District spokeswoman Debbie Calder says restrictions that had been in place on I-74 westbound have been lifted to accommodate detour traffic, thus slowing down the reconstruction.

John Meyers Pedestrian Bridge
Sarah Fentem / WBAA

This year’s Beers Across the Wabash might better be referred to as “Beers Next ToThe Wabash.” Construction on the event’s usual home on the John T. Meyers Pedestrian Bridge is behind schedule and won’t be done for at least another two weeks – thus moving the festival into neighboring Riehle Plaza.

Lafayette Public Works Director Jennifer Leshney says the bridge was originally slated to open August 28, but is behind schedule thanks to what she refers to as a “railing delivery issue.” Leshney says the railings weren’t delivered in time but didn't offer any more information.

Kenneth Spencer / https://www.flickr.com/photos/kendo26/5606710714

Crawfordsville’s mayor is organizing an informal social media campaign to put pressure on railroad operator CSX to pay more attention to the city.

Mayor Todd Barton, speaking Thursday on WBAA’s Ask The Mayor, encouraged Crawfordsville residents to phone CSX to complain about trains clogging intersections in the city.

But he says the idea of an angry phone call may be passé.

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