By Jacob Rund
The state's highway program would get a $400 million infusion of cash to widen key interstates if a bill debated in the House Ways and Means Committee becomes law.
The money would come from a savings account the General Assembly created just last year for major highway projects.
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Ways and Means Chairman Tim Brown, R-Crawfordsville, said the money should be used now, as opposed to later.
"You have to start getting this money out the door," said Brown, who is the author of House Bill 1002.
The bill would give the State Budget Committee the authority to transfer $400 million from the Major Moves Trust Fund to the state's main highway fund.
State highway commissioner Karl Browning said there are 22 projects that need to be done today but financial constraints only allow for the most critical to be completed. The money transferred from the Major Moves fund would allow the Indiana Department of Transportation to undertake as many as 12 of those 22 projects.
Browning calls the bill a "no lose proposition" and was adamant in his support.
A number of representatives from various Indiana construction firms testified along with Browning in support of the bill.
But some lawmakers questioned why the money wouldn't be used for local construction projects as well.
The chairman postponed a vote on the bill so members could consider changes.
Jacob Rund is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news service powered by Franklin College journalism students and faculty.