Members of central Indiana’s logistics industry say completing Interstate 69 from Bloomington to Indianapolis is a key priority in their quest to reduce “transportation bottlenecks” that are holding the economy back.
A group of logistics executives, all part of the Conexus Indiana Central Regional Logistics Council, on Wednesday released a plan promoting nearly 75 road, rail, air and water projects that, if completed, would help the whole sector succeed, they said.
“We create opportunities to grow our economy when we maintain and increase our logistics assets,” said Betsy McCaw, chief operating officer at Central Indiana Corporate Partnership, in a written statement. “That also translates into more high-paying logistics careers for Hoosiers.”
Construction on a nearly 30-mile stretch of I-69 from Bloomington to Martinsville is about a year behind schedule but is slated to open by the end of the year. The funding and route plans for the last part of the proposed road, which would go from Martinsville to Indianapolis, are still up in the air.
Besides completing I-69, priority projects for the group include adding lanes on Interstates 65, 70 and 69, finishing rural segments of U.S. 31, and connecting I-69 to I-65 with a loop that connects Madison, Hamilton, Hancock, Shelby, Johnson, Morgan, Hendricks and Boone counties.
Beyond infrastructure projects, the logistics industry is also struggling with finding qualified workers. Workforce development is needed to mitigate shortages of air cargo pilots, truck drivers and others trained in supply chain management, the group said.
It intends to lobby the federal government to change a Federal Aviation Administration rule that requires new pilots to have 1,500 hours of flight time, which is widely blamed for creating a shortage of new pilots.
The group also plans to ask the state to create a setback and traffic light policy on high-traffic roads, equalize state and county truck weight limits, and study parking locations for trucks along major Indiana roads.
“When businesses consider relocating or expanding in the region, those kinds of efforts demonstrate our commitment to maintaining and growing our infrastructure assets,” said Mark DeFabis, president and CEO of Integrated Distribution Services Inc.
The full plan can be viewed here.