Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb last week announced a list of projects that will be covered by the state's new $4.7 billion infrastructure funding program, according to The Times of Northwest Indiana.
The initiative will include rehabilitating 1,295 bridges, more than 9,600 miles of road resurfacing, construction of at least 122 miles of new roads and $342 million of local road improvements. The cost includes the takeover of a failed public-private partnership to expand Interstate 69.
The projects will be funded for five years by vehicle fee increases and a 10-cent-per-gallon gas tax passed by the Indiana legislature and approved by Holcomb earlier this year.
Indiana has a rocky history when it comes to public-private partnerships. The state's first project, the Indiana Toll Road, saw its operators file for bankruptcy in 2014, just eight years after taking it over due to significant debt and lower-than-anticipated traffic, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Another P3, the state's Interstate 69 expansion, has also come under fire. In June, the Indiana Finance Authority (IFA) took over the project amid extensive delays and late subcontractor payments. Cost overruns were also an issue. I-69 Development Partners bid $325 million for the project. IFA officials say there is just $72 million in funds left and that it will take an estimated $237 million to finish the project.
The state's second P3, the East End Crossing bridge — now called the Lewis and Clark Bridge — has seen greater success. The bridge, which connects Indiana and Kentucky over the Ohio River, opened in December and will soon see a new, $6 million road connecting the bridge to the River Ridge Industrial Park and the Port of Indiana as part of Holcomb's infrastructure package.
Despite some failures, P3s can be a game-changer for public agencies that don't have the money to fund multiple large-scale infrastructure projects at once. Passing along the lion's share of financing, design, building, operating and maintenance duties to the private sector allows local governments to leverage the cash they have across more projects.
That need to do so is becoming more apparent with President Donald Trump's proposed budget calling for state and local governments to pick up the mantle of infrastructure financing. Meanwhile, the American Society of Civil Engineers has scored the nation's infrastructure at a D+ rating, with an estimated $4.6 trillion in repairs and upgrades needed by 2025.