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May 22, 2013

Indiana presses ahead with I-69's next section

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana is pressing ahead with its search for a company to build a 21-mile section of the Interstate 69 extension under a public-private deal that calls for a contractor to line up its own financing to design and build the highway segment, state officials said Wednesday.

Indiana Department of Transportation officials plan to ask interested companies on Thursday to begin providing proof that they could handle the project to extend I-69 from Bloomington to Martinsville by turning a stretch of State Road 37 into a four-lane highway with interchanges and overpasses. A short list of qualified bidders would be released in July.

Gov. Mike Pence told a gathering of more than 200 contractors, designers and financial firms interested in bidding on the contract for the Bloomington-to-Martinsville segment that he's committed to finishing the nearly $3 billion, 142-mile I-69 extension that eventually will run from Evansville to Indianapolis.

"Make no mistake about it, finishing I-69 to me is about promoting prosperity all over our state, and it's for that reason that I find myself deeply committed to this project," Pence said.

The I-69 extension's first 67 miles between Evansville and the Crane area opened in November. A 27-mile stretch that will run from Crane to Bloomington is under construction in Greene and Monroe counties.

That segment is expected to be completed by late 2015, with its first portions opening in late 2014, said Jim Stark, INDOT's deputy commissioner for planning and project management.

While the contractors that built or are building I-69's first 94 miles received state funding for their work, the company that will build the Bloomington-to-Martinsville segment will sign a public-private deal under which it will arrange its own financing to design and build that stretch. The project's estimated construction costs range from $350 million to $500 million.

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