Indiana may reclaim control of delayed Interstate 69 project

The state of Indiana hopes to assume control of an Interstate 69 extension project three years after hiring a private developer to complete the work.

The Indiana Finance Authority announced the proposed takeover Monday, along with the project's fourth delayed completion date of August 2018. The state needs about $165 million to complete the project, which is currently being governed by a public-private partnership involving bond holders.

"We're going to get this job done," Gov. Eric Holcomb said. "People are going to be able to drive from Evansville to Indianapolis, light-free, on a true freeway. I look forward to that day."

The governor said construction will continue during negotiations to reclaim the project. The finance authority said it will take nearly $237 million to complete the extension, which will connect Evansville to Bloomington, but only $72 million is available.

The I-69 Development Partners originally bid $325 million to win the project. The group, led by Isolux Infrastructure Netherlands, was to arrange its own financing to design and build the Bloomington-to-Martinsville section of the project. In return, the state would make annual payments of nearly $22 million to the group to operate and maintain the highway for 35 years after its completion.

Work began in 2014 and was originally slated for completion by the end of 2016. But multiple delays have raised concerns.

In March, the Spanish company Isolux Corsan—which comprised 80 percent of I-69 Development Partners—began insolvency proceedings in Spain. The state finance agency is considering declaring I-69 Development Partners to be in default, though nothing official has been declared.

"The current path of trying to work with a private company has just been disastrous," said Rep. Matt Pierce, D-Bloomington, who supports the state's plan to take over the project.

"Little is happening. The road is dangerous. People are frustrated. One deadline after another has been missed," he said.

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