Hamilton County Council unanimously approved $12 million in funding for the proposed State Road 37 overhaul Wednesday night.
The $124 million project would transform the state highway into a free-flowing parkway with raised roundabout interchanges from 126th to 146th streets. Construction is not expected to begin for several years.
Fishers has already committed $12 million to the proposal, and the Indiana Department of Transportation is providing $100 million. Fishers will take control of the corridor during construction, but the state would reclaim control after the project is complete.
Local officials have repeatedly described the deal as the best-case scenario for businesses and residents who will be able to voice concerns to Fishers representatives rather than INDOT.
“There’s been virtually no dispute that all of us are in favor of this project,” council member Rick McKinney said. “I think it would be a great improvement… I think it’s a win-win, so I’m all for it.”
The County Council had been considering delaying a vote on the funding, but a resolution pledging support to fund a marketing campaign for businesses swayed the decision to vote Wednesday, council president Amy Massillamany said.
“We’ve done our due diligence to the best of our ability,” Massillamany said.
The council serves as the fiscal body of the county so it cannot vote on policies or initiate contracts --it can only make funding decisions.
The resolution, introduced by council member Fred Glynn, urges Fishers and the Hamilton County Board of Commissioners to create a marketing plan to help nearby businesses during construction, similar to what Carmel did with its “31 bites" program to help restaurants during U.S. 31 construction.
The plan commits support to fund 50 percent of any marketing contract with the amount not to exceed $250,000. The resolution passed unanimously prior to the S.R. 37 funding vote.
“I hope that it’s something we can work on together to mitigate the pain for these businesses,” Glynn said.
Any marketing contract would have to be initiated by Fishers. Mayor Scott Fadness said during the meeting that he supports the idea.
“We think it’s a tremendous idea,” Fadness said.
Prior to the vote, the council held a public hearing on the S.R. 37 funding request. Fadness, Noblesville Mayor John Ditslear and a handful of other city and county elected officials spoke in favor of the project.
Several businesses along the congested corridor spoke against the proposal, urging the council to search for other solutions and criticizing Fishers for not contacting all of the business owners.
“We are not one of those businesses they have reached out to,” Chris Clark, sales manager at Honda of Fishers, said. “There are no meetings that we know of or have been asked to attend.”
Fadness replied to those comments later in the meeting, saying the city has reached out to Honda and will continue to do so. Fishers plans to contract with RQAW Consulting Engineers & Architects to provide a single contact person for businesses.
“This will not be the last conversation we have with the businesses,” Fadness said.
Glynn also addressed concerns about alternatives, reiterating that the county council can’t change the details of the project.
“We were the last people to vote on this and we don't have a lot of control,” Glynn said. “We’re just an up or down vote on whether the funding is there.”
The funding request passed 6-0.