Long-Range Perspective

Long-Range Perspective

INDOT’s New Commissioner Shares His Goals
By Joe McGuinness, Commissioner, Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT)

 

Joe McGuinness

I am honored to have started serving as commissioner of the Indiana Department of Transportation in January 2017. My commitment to Indiana taxpayers is to make decisions today that will benefit the state 20 years down the road, likely long after I’m gone from this role.

I developed this long-range perspective while serving as mayor of Franklin, IN, for five years before arriving at INDOT. As mayor, every decision I made was based not on an election cycle, but on what I thought our community’s youth needed to do and understand and look forward to 20 years from now. Although I realized that our kids will go off to college, I wanted them to be attracted to — and come back to — a thriving city.

Likewise, our state’s infrastructure can thrive with proper long-term vision. State leaders certainly had vision when the Indiana General Assembly passed and Gov. Eric Holcomb signed a new 20-year road funding bill, House Enrolled Act 1002. This transformational legislation will ramp up investment in INDOT’s roads and bridges by an additional $900 million annually and provide about $300 million in new state dollars to invest in local roadways. The package also provides a sustainable funding source to continue the popular Community Crossings matching grant program, which, as a former mayor, is near to my heart. The program helps Hoosier communities maintain and improve their main streets and important roads to spur economic growth.

Gov. Holcomb has entrusted me to lead the state’s transportation network to the next level. It is a priority of mine to shorten the time it takes to plan, fund, and start construction projects. With HEA 1002, we can improve pavement conditions, resulting in smoother roads; focus on preservation to keep good roads in good condition longer; modernize bridges to support heavier weight limits; and work on key projects. These dozens of important projects include:

  • Adding travel lanes to I-65 and I-70 border to border
  • Completing I-69 between Martinsville and Indianapolis
  • Building I-69 Ohio River Crossing Bridge
  • Upgrading U.S. 30 between Valparaiso and Fort Wayne
  • Upgrading U.S. 31 between Indianapolis and South Bend

But, I believe we would be doing Hoosiers a disservice if we put all taxpayer dollars back into our roads with just the traditional concrete and asphalt. We must look forward to what transportation will look like in the years to come. Autonomous, connected vehicles are a thing of the future, and the future is now. We have to start planning and making sure that we are prepared for what the automobile manufacturers are going to be putting on our roads.

On that note, INDOT is working with the automobile industry, universities, local communities and government officials to identify the needs to support this future infrastructure, including activities in design, safety, and traffic operations.

Beyond building better roads, taking our transportation network to the next level is dependent on building transportation modes that compliment, not compete, with one another. Investing in rail projects like the double tracking of the South Shore Line and the Indiana Gateway, developing a fourth statewide port in Southeast Indiana, and attracting more direct flights to Indiana airports are projects that I’m thrilled to help advance.

Indiana’s infrastructure ranks best in the nation, according to CNBC’s ranking of America’s top states for business in 2016. Such a top billing is fleeting if we rest on our laurels. I look forward to partnering with a wide range of stakeholders to ensure Hoosiers’ transportation needs improve and evolve over the next 20 years.

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