Since joining the state legislature in 2010, I have worked to secure funding for the Boonville bypass project. Having grown up in Southern Indiana, started a business in Boonville and been engaged in the local community through various association leadership positions, I am glad to see this project coming to fruition.
Since the development of the Alcoa Warrick Operations plant along the Ohio River in the 1950s, the people of Boonville have contemplated the creation of a bypass; relief from the disruption of dirty, loud coal trucks driving through their historic downtown square. With the collaboration of the state legislature, Lieutenant Governor Sue Ellspermann, the generosity of Alcoa and the collaboration of the community, this vision has finally become a reality and bids for the $14 million project will begin in December of next year.
Once completed, this 4.2 mile bypass will divert coal trucks to the west of Boonville instead of requiring them to drive through the heart of the town. Having heard these trucks for years, I know first-hand the trouble they can cause, particularly to other businesses. Their presence rattles store-front windows, impedes traffic and creates a lingering layer of dust and dirt on historic buildings.
However, it is important to remember that this project has never been about Alcoa directly. Alcoa serves as Warrick County’s largest employer. They are greatly esteemed and appreciated throughout the community and have routinely partnered with communities, investing a total of more than $550 million.
In fact, Alcoa and their subsidiaries will be donating several parcels of land for this particular project. Residents love having this industry as a staple in their community, which plays a very big role in the identity of this region.
Coal mines are highly prevalent in the area and are a vital part of the economy not only in southwest Indiana but also throughout the country. Frankly, this area needs the coal industry. The creation of a bypass is by no means an attempt to malign this industry, but I think most of us can agree that it will be mutually beneficial when coal trucks do not have to drive through Boonville on a daily basis.
This project is just one example of the commitment Indiana has made to building, maintaining and improving infrastructure in our state. This past session, we successfully passed a balanced budget that kept spending in check, but also increased funding for our priorities like education, transportation infrastructure and public safety.
In looking at transportation funding, an additional $250 million will be provided per year for state and local roads and bridges. Forty-seven percent of these funds will be distributed to local units with no strings attached. In addition, we reserved $400 million in the Major Moves 2020 fund over the biennium for future transportation infrastructure needs. Towns across Indiana will reap the benefits of this significant investment for years to come.
As always, feel free to connect with me on my website at www.in.gov/h75 or by phone at 317-232-9674. I look forward to seeing the progression of the Boonville Bypass and the positive impact it will have on the community.