An approximately $200 million extension of State Road 101 was announced Friday by Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb to provide a direct route for Switzerland, Dearborn and Ohio counties to both I-71 and I-74 and offer a new cross-river route for freight traffic through southeastern Indiana.
The State Road 101 extension was announced along with two other southern Indiana projects, bringing a total commitment of $475 million in funding for new roadways, to improve connectivity of the highway and interstates that support business and industry through interstate commerce.
The announcement stated that the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) will begin development of a 25-mile extension to State Road 101 with the existing portion of U.S. 50 near Milan and at the Ohio River crossing via Markland Dam near Vevay, which is just miles from I-71 in northern Kentucky.
The announcement did not include a projected start date except that initial planning for the project will begin within the next year.
Switzerland County Commissioner Jamie Peters said, “We’re definitely excited. It provides opportunities we haven’t had in the past of access and connection, and it provides growth potential for industry. There’s no guarantee, but we’re hoping for and would like to see those things.”
“The State Road 101 announcement was a bit of a surprise to the council,” said Lance Collier, president of the Switzerland County Council. “We knew back in the summer/fall of 2019 that our commissioners were working with officials from INDOT, as were other affected counties, to figure out a way forward for the road extension project. To my knowledge, those groups were not able to reach an agreement. There were concerns over the requirement of the county taking on the financial responsibility of maintaining some of the state roads in our county. We hadn’t heard any updates since that time. We haven’t heard all of the details yet on how this will unfold. I don’t believe INDOT has specified an official route and there’s no mention of us taking responsibility for existing highways.”
Peters explained there were, indeed, discussions two years ago in which the state was proposing that Switzerland County take over control of State Road 250 and State Road 156 in the county. Peters noted that discussions at that time were that Switzerland County might agree to that, but that the county would need financial help. Ultimately, Peters said nothing came of that requirement and he is not aware of any such requirement with the project announced Friday, which is even better news for the county.
“Indiana’s location and extensive transportation network make our state one of the most attractive places in the country to do business and create jobs,” Holcomb said. “These projects will better connect our communities, enhance commerce within and beyond our borders and deliver value for Hoosiers for generations to come.”
The state will invest $75 million for design and construction of added travel lanes, passing lanes and intersection improvements at strategic locations on U.S. 231. The improvements will significantly reduce congestion in the Jasper and Huntingburg areas and improve safety and mobility throughout the approximately 48-mile corridor from I-64 near Dale to I-69 near Crane. Construction is anticipated to begin by late 2022.
Indiana and Kentucky have been working together since 2016 to develop the I-69 Ohio River Crossing near Evansville. Indiana will now invest $200 for INDOT to begin designing the Indiana approach to the Ohio River, which includes an interchange with the existing I-69 and Veterans Memorial Parkway and an approximately 1.5 mile new-terrain portion of I-69 approaching the Ohio River.
INDOT and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet will continue to partner on development of the bridge portion of the project as both states design and build respective approach portions of the project. Once fully connected, I-69 will be a continuous interstate from the U.S.-Canada border near Port Huron, Michigan to the Kentucky-Tennessee state line.
“Modern, safe, reliable transportation infrastructure is a ‘must have’ to compete for talent, growth and job creation in today’s economy,” INDOT Commissioner Joe McGuinness said. “With Indiana’s commitment to taking care of our existing roads and bridges and our investment in major projects, our state is delivering a transportation system that plays a major role in creating one of the nation’s best business climates.”