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“Lot of Lessons” to Be Learned from I-69 Mistakes

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State officials admitted the I-69 project has suffered from mistakes at this month’s State Budget Committee hearing, according to the Indiana Business Journal.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Luke Kenley said he believes “there are a lot of lessons” to be learned from how the state handled the project, especially from the failed partnership with a private developer for Section 5 of I-69.

Section 5 is the 21-mile stretch of road between Bloomington and Martinsville.

Kenley criticized the state for focusing too much on low bids, and not enough on the background and credibility of the bidders.

I-69 Development Partners, the group the state initially partnered with that included the public-private partnership, bid 325 million dollars for the Section 5 project. That bid was 73 million dollars lower than the next closest bid.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Kenley suggested that signs that the company could not financially complete the project existed before the state agreed to work with them. Kenley said the state “failed to see” in advance that the company wouldn’t complete the interstate.

The public-private partnership is dissolving in the midst of financial troubles between the I-69 Development Partners and contractor Isolux Corsan.

Originally, the company planned to build and maintain the highway for 35 years, under state contract. Now, the state plans to take over the project entirely.

Because the state’s credit is better than the developer’s, Governor Holcomb’s fiscal team says costs for the project will actually decrease when the state takes out bonds for the project, possibly saving taxpayers around 30 million dollars.

The Indiana Business Journal also reported that Democratic  State Senator Karen Tallian of Portage, Indiana, said of the situation “It looks like we’re getting out. It looks like we’re not getting hurt too badly.”

Section 5 of the project  is scheduled for an August 2018 completion date.

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