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Shelby County coalition to support Indianapolis bypass

February 8, 2007

Three Shelby County development organizations have formed a coalition to support the toll road Gov. Mitch Daniels wants to build around the east and south sides of Indianapolis, according to the Shelbyville News.

Shelby County and Morristown chambers of commerce and Shelby County Development Corp. say their coalition is in the spirit of an earlier decision by Shelbyville’s Common Council asking that the Indiana Commerce Connector be studied under state sponsorship.

Luke Messer, an attorney at the Indianapolis law firm Ice Miller and a former Republican state representative from Shelbyville, has been hired by the Morristown chamber to consult in building broader support for the project.

Pointing out that most economic development in recent years has gravitated to major highways, coalition members believe the road would bring jobs. Shelbyville is a short distance along Interstate 74 from the $550 million car assembly plant Honda Motor Co. is building near Greensburg.

Daniels says the road is needed to bring jobs to the communities and to ease growing congestion on Interstate 465.

However, other communities in the path of the road have been reluctant to lend public support. Hundreds of people who have turned out to meetings to discuss the idea have voiced overwhelming opposition over worries about traffic, loss of farms and land being acquired through eminent domain.

The 75-mile road would link Pendleton, Greenfield, Shelbyville, Franklin, Martinsville and Indianapolis International Airport.

Daniels proposes allowing a private company to build and fund the project. Tolls collected from the road also would help pay to extend Interstate 69 between Indianapolis and Evansville.

The Indiana Senate Transportation Committee has approved a bill to fund the Commerce Connector as well as the Illiana Expressway, a toll road that would link northwest Indiana and Illinois. If the full Senate passes the bill, it goes to the House.

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