America’s rural transportation system is in need of repairs and modernization to support economic growth in the nation’s Heartland, which is a critical source of energy, food and fiber. With increases in population and growing employment, rural America is heavily reliant on the quality of its transportation system to sustain further growth. According to a report released by TRIP, 15% of our nation's rural roadways need immediate attention.
The Indiana University Public Policy Institute has estimated that it would cost the state $6.4 billion to bring all of Indiana’s rural roads up to an acceptable level and to repair or replace all of Indiana’s functionally obsolete or structurally-deficient bridges.
To help address this issue in some way, the Indiana Department of Transportation has announced that $100.8 million in federal transportation funding is being awarded to 54 cities, towns, and counties in rural portions of Indiana to invest in local road and bridge improvements as well as sidewalk and trail projects. Combined with local funds, approximately $124.9 million is being invested in infrastructure in communities receiving funds.
Types of projects receiving funds include 32 bridge rehabilitation/replacement projects; 11 resurfacing/reconstruction projects; 6 Transportation Alternative Program (TAP) projects that include work such as sidewalks, ADA ramps, and trails; and 5 traffic safety projects.
“Local transportation improvements are critical to growing and enhancing Indiana's communities,” INDOT commissioner Joe McGuinness said. “Our sustained commitment to modernizing local roads and bridges, adding sidewalks, and growing our trail networks sends a clear message that we’re building cities, towns and counties that are primed to attract and retain talent and spur job growth in the 21st century economy.”
A list of all communities receiving funds is online at http://www.in.gov/indot/2390.htm.
For this latest round of funding, rural communities will design, develop and purchase land for projects that would be bid during the fiscal year beginning July 2025. While the funds awarded now are dedicated to construction, INDOT will be financially participating in design, engineering, and right of way acquisition components of these projects.
INDOT dedicates approximately 25 percent of its federal highway funds to supporting local projects each year. Metropolitan Planning Organizations distribute those funds to cities, towns, and counties within the state’s larger urbanized areas while INDOT distributes funds outside MPO areas. Communities must pay at least 20 percent in local matching funds and meet other federal requirements to receive federal funding.
Rural communities were invited to submit project applications to INDOT for potential funding during a call for projects announced in October 2020.