INDIANAPOLIS – For more than a decade, $500 million in proceeds from the 2006 Indiana Toll Road lease has sat untouched, earning interest to go to road and bridge projects.
But now Gov. Eric Holcomb's administration is leveraging the money more aggressively for a major rail project in northwest Indiana and to help spark growth in Indiana companies.
“Let's use it the best way possible,” said Micah Vincent, head of the Indiana Office of Management and Budget. “Let's optimize it.”
The new strategy started in 2017 when lawmakers authorized up to $250 million from the Next General Trust Fund to be invested in riskier equity and debt investments, primarily in Indiana companies.
But another move came on the last night of the 2018 session – allowing the state to bond against the remaining $250 million for the double tracking of the South Shore rail line in northwest Indiana and the West Lake Corridor Project.
The proposal is to expand the South Shore Line from single track to double track between Gary and Michigan City and construct, signal, power, and platform improvements at five passenger stations. That project is set at more than $300 million.
The West Lake Corridor Project is a proposed southern branch extension of the existing South Shore Line to reach high-growth areas in Lake County. It will cost more than $650 million.