Saturday, March 24, 2007

Daniels Drops Plan For Indy Commerce Connector

Gov. Mitch Daniels has wisely abandoned his poorly thought out plan to build a new toll road bypass outside the I-465 beltway surrounding Indianapolis as part of his proposed plan to build I-69 from Indianapolis to Evansville. In a letter to lawmakers he withdrew the plan, along with a proposal to build a new Illiana expressway east of I-65 in northwest Indiana, in response to overwhelming public opposition to it. Daniels is, however, continuing the push for an Illiana expressway west of I-65 linking northwest Indiana to Illinois. The letter reads:

Like you, I have been paying close attention to the vigorous public discussion around my proposal to explore new privately funded bypass roads in Northwest and Central Indiana. After legislative action to date, some forty public meetings, and lots of other open debate, it is clear to me that we are far from the degree of consensus that is necessary before embarking on major public works projects of high local impact.

Accordingly, I withdraw the suggestion that any action be taken on an Indiana Commerce Connector, or an Illiana Expressway east of I-65. Either of these ideas might benefit from further research, and I would welcome some form of that if your committees are so inclined. But the people of the affected areas have spoken clearly enough to persuade me that these ideas are, at best, premature.

By contrast, an Illiana bypass from I-65 west seems to be broadly supported and can, I hope, be given the chance to move forward.

I appreciate the citizenship of everyone who participated in these two debates. We must never be afraid to venture new ideas for fear of controversy; a state that does that will surely stagnate. But we must also never assume that every new idea is a good one, or imperative to act on immediately.

I hope that you will reshape the legislation along the above lines, but am happy to work with you on whatever approach you deem best for the interests of our state.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Translation: I don't have a bat's chance in hell of winning re-election unless I get this behind me fast.

Jeff Newman said...

Well, 3:17, I suppose politics can make us all cynical, but I thought Mitch was pretty gracious about this one. Now if only his former boss ( I won't mention names, but his initials are George W. Bush) would listen to the public...

Chris said...

CAPIT vows to continue the fight against the Illiana, but it remains to be seen if they'll have the same level of intensity in their opposition now that many of the opponents don't have to worry that the road will be built near their towns.

The governor is wise to not completely drop the plan, because it is likely that the unions and business leaders in Lake County look forward to the highway.

Also, as more and more Illinois people move to Lake County to escape ultra-high Cook Co. taxes and many Lake Co. residents commute to Chicago and other Illinois destinations for higher paying jobs, additional routes to Illinois will be necessary to keep all of the current roadways from being clogged during all hours of the day.

If the Illiana lessens some of the truck traffic on U.S. 30 and Indiana 2, it will be a good thing, not to mention providing an alternative to the Borman when it is congested like it was during the 1990s and early 2000s.

Anonymous said...

If Illinois residents, who work in Chicago, move to Indiana to escape rising property taxes, as Chris suggests, there should be some consequences.

Hint: it's NOT taxes...directly. It's home prices, mostly. And quality of schools. Home prices affect taxes, of course...now that Indiana has finally entered the 19th century on that score (kicking and screaming the whole way).

Just like Marion County employing out-county folks, a commuter tax makes sense. Lacking the political will to enact such a tax for people who are burdening the infrastructure of the host county, a toll road sounds like a damned good idea to me.

And yeah, Mitch was mildly gracious. Or condescending, depending on whether the words come with that smarmy grin that mimmicks W's, which makes you just wanna bitchslap both of them into the next century.