All that stands between Indiana taxpayers and $200 million in savings is 11 acres of woods in Kentucky.
They are not particularly attractive trees. And their value is widely disputed -- even in Kentucky. But preservationists who wanted to stop an Ohio River bridge project decades ago were able to secure a historic designation for the property; and the bridge project is now moving forward.
So Indiana is paying $255 million to bore a tunnel under the trees. It's a payment some say is necessary to preserve a narrow slice of history, others to preserve interstate harmony, and still others because, well, the rules are the rules. Changing them would take time.
But even as engineers gear up to begin the project, others insist it's an immense taxpayer boondoggle.
"The tunnel is a terrible abuse of taxpayers' money," said Anne Northup, Louisville's congresswoman from 1996 to 2006. "It's an outrage in terms of what it accomplishes versus the cost." . . .I'm not sure why Rep. Northrop is complaining. It's Indiana taxpayers who are essentially picking up the tab for Kentucky's costs. It's Indiana's taxpayers, not Kentucky's, who are being abused. The Star story totally misses that point. Click here to read Renn's four part story on this boondoggle.
UPDATE: Aaron Renn has penned a new post in response to the Star's Sunday feature story, which he notes misses the larger picture. "This is a deal that will live in infamy as Indiana’s worst transportation finance decision since the 1830s epic canal fiasco that bankrupted the state. I cannot think of another governor in modern times who so clearly acted contrary to his own constituents’ financial interests in a transportation project," Renn writes.