Yesterday, the 4 beams were set for portion of the Sample Road interchange that will go over I-69 southbound. The northbound beams will be set at a later date.
While I’m sure that watching road construction is like watching paint dry for most people, beam setting is really a pretty impressive and precision operation, involving 2 cranes.
Here is a video I made of the operation from my drone. I did my best to condense 2 hours of work into a 9 minute video:
Thank you very much to INDOT and Keramida (engineering firm) for allowing me to film this operation from my drone safely. In particular, thanks to Sandra Flum, Mark Flick, and Bruce Winningham.
Here is a map that shows approximately where the beams were set:
The beams were set for the bridge over the future southbound lane, which is west of the existing southbound lane. The northbound lane will become a frontage road and the current southbound lane will become the future northbound lane in this area.
This posting is a brief follow-up on a report on Indiana Public Media: How Much Money is Included For I-69 in the State’s New Roads Plan? As the report pointed out, the state’s new 5-year infrastructure investment plan (so-called Next Level Indiana) provides some funding for the final section of I-69 in Indiana, Section 6, which runs from Martinsville to I-465 in Indianapolis. However, as the report also notes, I-69 is not fully funded in the report.
The investment plan breaks out the investments by county. The following table shows the funding for I-69 by county (and also by segment in Marion County):
So, a total of $554M has been allocated for I-69 through 2022. It appears that the segments going through Morgan County have been fully funded, with allocations going down from there.
Alternative C4 (of which there are two variants) is estimated to cost approximately $1.5B. So at first blush it appears that Section 6 has been funded at around 36% through 2022.
Although the subsections don’t line up perfectly with county boundaries, they are pretty close. Subsections 1-4 are in Morgan County, going from Indian Creek (where Section 6 begins) to Banta Road in Morgan County. Using Alt C4A, total estimated costs are $515.7M, of which $263M (approximately 50%) is funded. Subsection 5 is in Johnson County, and it appears that approximately $153.2M out of $203.5M, or 75%, is funded. And Subsections 6-8 in Marion County appear to be funded at $138.1M out of a total cost of $785.1M (18%). There could, however, be some additional funding in the 5-year plan that isn’t labeled as I-69 — for examples, I-465 improvements — but are part of the overall cost of I-69 Section 6; I don’t know.
So I think one can draw two conclusions from this 5-year plan: (1) the final section of I-69 is not fully funded — not by a long shot. It isn’t clear whether the state will fund the gap by sustaining this level of investment beyond 2022, or through some sort of public-private partnership, or some other approach entirely; and (2) that while section 6 is not fully funded, the state has earmarked a substantial amount of funding for it, belying the claims of some that the state would just “declare victory” after section 5, and leave 37 to Indianapolis as-is. It is clear that the state is serious about completing the project, and is already committing substantial resources to complete it.
Two aspects of the article that I found particularly noteworthy:
We (Monroe County) will be receiving the lowest amount per capita in the state, at $71.91 per person (compared to $4115.06 for the highest county).
Our neighbor to the north, Morgan County, will be receiving the most per capita at $4115.06.
The article doesn’t really touch on the Monroe County amount, but does note that “Morgan County — home to Martinsville and Mooresville — will by far receive the most road funding per capita at about $4,115 per person.” The article then goes on to quote an INDOT spokesman about state-maintained road-miles and the condition of of roads and bridges in each county. But I’m left astounded that the article doesn’t even mention the obvious reason and context both for Monroe County’s low number and Morgan County’s particularly high number: I-69.
In fact, if you look at the individual road projects in the plan for Morgan County (available here, on pages 144-145), construction of I-69 (the beginnings of Section 6) represents nearly all — $263M out of $287M — of the funding allocated to Morgan County. And conversely, Monroe County is currently “experiencing” over $300M of investment in I-69 and related roads that will (we can only hope) end before the FY2018 funding indicated in the 5-year plan starts to be expended.
One side note is that this situation illustrates that the per-capita measure — and even the per-county measure of investment — is of limited value when long-haul highways are considered. After all, the portion of I-69 that goes through Morgan County certainly does serve Morgan County and its residents — but it also serves residents of many other counties and potentially other states who only want to get through Morgan County as quickly as possible.
Dear MoCoGov readers, I am out in the Denver area for work, as I am frequently, and wanted to take the opportunity to bring to your attention an Interstate highway project out here that will, I think, remind you more than a bit of our own I-69 Section 5. In particular, the state of Colorado appears to be on the verge of going down the very same path that Indiana did not only in using a public-private partnership (P3) to build the road, but in using the very same type of P3. I have written about P3s before here.
The setting is a 10-mile segment of I-70 between downtown Denver and the Denver International Airport, a segment that sees over 200,000 vehicles per day. I myself have driven on this segment dozens of times.
The Central 70 project proposes to reconstruct a 10-mile stretch of I-70 east of downtown, add one new Express Lane in each direction, remove the aging 53-year old viaduct, lower the interstate between Brighton and Colorado boulevards, and place a 4-acre cover park over a portion of the lowered interstate. Construction begins in 2018.
From an engineering perspective, the most fascinating aspect of the project is the creation of a 4-acre park over a lowered section of the highway (referred to as a “partial cover” in project documents). Here is a rendering from the environmental documents:
As you might imagine, resistance from many residents to the highway expansion, which has been estimated to triple the highway’s footprint, has been stiff. See here and here for examples. The slogan “Ditch the Ditch” has been adopted by the opponents to the project.
The Federal Record of Decision (ROD) for the Central 70 project was issued in January of 2017, allowing Colorado Department of Transportation to move ahead with the project. The ROD and other environmental documents are available here: http://www.i-70east.com/reports.html.
But while the project is superficially quite different in many ways, the procurement vehicle will seem quite familiar to southern Indiana residents. Colorado has decided to pursue a particular form of public-private partnership: the Design-Build-Finance-Operate-Maintain model, the very same model used (and in the process of being abandoned) for I-69 Section 5. In this model, the private contractor not only designs and builds the road, but also finances the project, operates the road (and in the case of Central 70 the tolling component), and maintains the road for the entire period of the agreement. Some of the more cynical among us refer to this model as a construction project hidden inside a maintenance contract, that allows politicians to do big projects while being able to say that they are not taking on debt. Supporters say that it is the only way to close the “infrastructure gap” and maintain a sustainable debt load (I mentioned that argument a few days ago here).
The private contractor will be compensated through a toll concession (of course not part of the I-69 Section 5 deal) along with so-called “availability payments”, periodic payments for having the road open to the specified level of service (which is a central feature of the I-69 Section 5 project).
The Central 70 project is also using a (seemingly identical) multi-stage process, in which four teams have been selected to submit final proposals. The following chart from the project Web site shows the four teams selected to submit proposals. You can see a similar chart for I-69 Section 5 here: I-69 Section 5 Actual Proposers.
Fortunately Isolux-Corsan does not appear on this list! But many of these company names will sound very familiar. Plenary Group was one of the proposers for I-69 Section 5, as was Meridiam. AECOM and Parsons Brinckerhoff were on I-69 teams as well as design contractors. And Spanish infrastructure giant Cintra will be familiar to local readers as one half (along with Macquarie, who did the financial justification for the P3 for the Central 70) of the now bankrupt Indiana Toll Road Concession Company.
Per the Request for Proposals, the High-Performance Transportation Enterprise (HPTE), the public entity that will actually be awarding the contract, is willing to issue up to $725M in private activity bonds (PABs). Per the Federal Highway Administration, PABs are:
…debt instruments authorized by the Secretary of Transportation and issued by a conduit issuer on behalf of a private entity for highway and freight transfer projects, allowing a private project sponsor to benefit from the lower financing costs of tax-exempt municipal bonds.
These bonds do not obligate the state or pledge the “full faith and credit” of the state.
I-69 Section 5 used a similar financing method, having issued almost $244M of PABs to I-69 Development Partners (the prime contractor). These bonds have been continually downrated, and were most recently downgraded by Standard & Poor to a CCC- rating. Recently, as the partnership has been collapsing, it has been reported in the media that the State of Indiana has been negotiating with bondholders to buy back the bonds and take over the financing of the project; thus far the bondholders have rejected the state’s offers.
At this point, it appears that the intention is to make the award during the summer of 2017, with commercial and financial close by October 2017, and construction beginning in 2018. This is an important project of regional and even national significance. I love the partial-cover/park concept that reunites neighborhoods long split by I-70. And I really hope the project moves forward (though I don’t look forward to the airport traffic during construction).
But I also hope that the good folks at the HPTE and the Colorado Department of Transportation talk to their friends at the IFA and INDOT. Surely there are some lessons learned?
A few hours ago, INDOT released the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for I-69 Section 6, the final section of the Evansville to Indianapolis highway. Section 6 runs from just south of Martinsville to I-465.
Links to INDOT’s press release and the DEIS can be found here:
After 13 years of additional input and analysis, INDOT is sticking with the original route selected in the 2004 Tier 1 Record of Decision: the SR 37 corridor.
4 lanes from Indian Creek (where Section 5 ends) to SR 144 north of Martinsville, 6 lanes from SR 144 to Southport Road, and 8 lanes from Southport Road to I-465
Using the existing SR 37 center median, with cable barriers or double sided guardrails at some locations. Note that an alternative that basically elevated I-69 through Martinsville was considered but not recommended.
The preferred alternative is referred to as C4.
Two options, with no recommendation, are provided for the interchange at Southport Road just south of I-465
The preferred alternative costs approximately $1.5B, assuming construction from 2020-2026
The final Record of Decision (ROD) and the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) from the Federal Highway Administration is anticipated for 1st quarter 2018.
The following map illustrates the preferred route, C4:
The full DEIS is thousands of pages long. I strongly recommend you start with (and maybe stay with) the executive summary. S.6 provides a good summary of the rationale for the route selected. In addition Chapter 3: Alternatives: C4 Mapbook provides detailed and summary maps of the recommended alternative.
INDOT is accepting public comment through May 8 via the comment form at www.in.gov/indot/projects/i69/2463.htm or by mail to the I-69 Section 6 project office, 7847 Waverly Road, Martinsville, IN 46151. In addition, several public meetings are planned. For details, see the INDOT press release.
The Indianapolis Department of Transportation (INDOT) just moments ago released the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for Section 6 of I-69, which will run from Martinsville to Indianapolis. Public comments will be accepted through May 8, 2017.
MoCoGov readers have probably noticed that I’ve taken a bit of a hiatus from blog posting for the election. Now that that awful thing is behind us, I’ll get back to writing more frequently. And today’s news gives me a chance to post on a subject that never fails to cheer me up — road construction!!
I-69 Development Partners provided their plans for winterization of Section 5 of I-69 last week at the MPO Policy Committee meeting. I will admit that the committee was by and large underwhelmed, and had hoped for a much more detailed schedule. I don’t doubt that they (we) will continue to push for such. But at least this plan gives motorists some idea of how the road will be configured for the winter.
Per their “Winter safety plan”, I-69 Development Partners will:
They say that these items will be completed by the end of the year, with a “few work items carrying over into early January if the weather holds.”
The single-lane traffic at the Bryant’s Creek Bridge is probably the biggest concern with the winterization plan. Since we have not been provided with a more detailed schedule yet, it isn’t clear how long this area of the road will be restricted.