CHICAGO (CBS) — Indiana has begun work on a project to add widen Interstate 65, a day after the governor signed into law a 10-cent-per-gallon gas tax hike and other fee increases to fund road construction.
The project will add a third lane in both directions on a 13-mile stretch of I-65 between U.S. Route 30 in Merrillville and State Road 2 near Lowell, according to Indiana Department of Transportation Commissioner Joe McGuinness.
“Crews will maintain two lanes of traffic in both directions at all times. Please, please, please pay close attention to signs and work zone speed limits,” he said.
The project will be a bit of a good news/bad news situation for drivers, improving traffic on I-65 when it’s done, but temporarily adding to existing tie-ups on the Indiana Toll Road and Interstate 94 – which also are under construction – while the work is underway.
“The intensity of that traffic is growing, and it becomes very clear that we need six lanes border to border,” State Rep. Edmond Soliday (R-Valparaiso) said.
Soliday defended the gas tax hike approved by lawmakers and the governor.
“Actually, we adjusted buying power for inflation, and that’s all we did,” he said.
Gov. Eric Holcomb said the expansion of I-65 is an investment in the future.
“This project is one of 800,” he said.
Some political observers have suggested Republicans did Democrats a favor in Indiana, by raising the gas tax and implementing number of fees – including a $15 annual fee on all vehicles, a $150 fee on electric vehicles, and a $50 fee on hybrids.