Tue. Jun 18th, 2024

INDOT is requesting a quarter of a billion dollars to improve welcome centers

By meerna Jun12,2024

INDIANAPOLIS — After six decades of wear and tear, many welcome centers in Indiana could soon receive much-needed upgrades.

On Tuesday, Indiana Department of Transportation Chief Financial Officer Joe Gustin asked lawmakers to approve $255 million in funding to build six new centers – a move that is part of a larger $600 million INDOT initiative to modernize, close or replacing 16 facilities across the state over the next 13 years.

“With the exception of the two new ones that we are going to build on I-69 (southbound), all of our remaining efforts have been focused on taking care of the ones we already have,” Gustin told the State Budget Committee.

Gustin, along with INDOT Statewide Facilities Director of Facilities Management Steve McAvoy, told the committee the centers will feature recreational spaces, modern amenities and highlights from the region’s history.

“I believe they are destinations,” McAvoy said of the welcome centers. “You know, from what we’ve seen in Kankakee, with the tremendous traffic there right now.”

The money for the six new centers would come from the State Roads Fund for 2023. While some lawmakers on both sides of the aisle acknowledged the need for modernization, several also expressed concerns about price.

“At an average of $42 million per person, that’s a really good welcome center,” state Sen. Chris Garten (D-Charlestown) said to Gustin and McAvoy. “You can build a world-class facility for $42 million.”

“I simply question a quarter-billion dollar investment in welcome centers when I know for a fact that there are higher priority projects across the state,” said state Sen. Fady Qaddoura (D-Indianapolis), addressing both INDOT officials.

INDOT officials said most of the money would go to sidewalks, specifically 1,200 new semi-truck parking spaces.

“Anyone who may be traveling on interstates at night or early morning will see all of these semis lined up on ramps, and adding 1,200 additional seats will help improve the safety situation,” Gustin said.

By meerna

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