Indiana construction projects explode thanks to new budget plan

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – A wave of historic buildings will soon begin in Indiana after lawmakers set aside more than $ 1 billion for construction projects, including a new training center for the forces of the order, a renovated prison and a pavilion at the state fairgrounds.

The new state budget passed in April by the Republican-controlled General Assembly is inundated with federal coronavirus relief money, allowing the state to provide significant funding for projects that had been on hold for years and excluded from spending plans.

Lawmakers have created a $ 550 million fund for possible construction projects still in the planning stages. An additional $ 900 million in federal money has been set aside for future unspecified state construction projects. An additional $ 60 million has been allocated to the state’s recreational trail building program.

Since the budget bill did not specify the amounts, the projects will use the money on a first come, first served basis.

The State Budget Committee has so far authorized more than $ 100 million in spending for the early planning and design of nearly a dozen proposed projects.

Among the first projects underway is the replacement of a century-old pigsty at the Indiana State Fairgrounds with a new multi-purpose facility, renamed the Fall Creek Pavilion.

State officials released money in June for the $ 50 million project which is expected to include a restoration of the front facade of the original pigsty and a complete reconstruction of the rest of the structure. This includes an addition of 50,000 square feet (1.15 acres), bringing the total area to 197,000 square feet (2.23 acres), which will allow the facility to host major sporting events.

Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb opened the site on Friday, hailing the upgrade as a long-term revenue generator.

“What we didn’t want to do was find ourselves in a position where we were just developing government. We wanted to be able to repay or avoid debt, avoid interest payments, ”Holcomb said of the state’s investment in construction projects. “Indiana has never seen a three, five or 10 year horizon like the one we are currently looking at.”

Fair officials said the goal is to complete the project before the 2023 fair starts.

A new state archives building and inn in Potato Creek State Park in northern Indiana also comes to fruition six years after former Governor and Vice President Mike Pence failed failed to fund projects within the framework of the state bicentennial celebration.

The former Republican governor’s contested plan to finance construction by leasing state-owned cell phone towers as part of a public-private partnership was scrapped by Pence’s successor Holcomb, few shortly after taking office in 2017.

The State Archives moved from the basement of the State Library to a warehouse in Indianapolis in 2001. The move, however, was intended to be temporary, as the location is not equipped for preservation. long term of some of the state’s most important documents, including the State Constitutions, Governors’ Documents, and Acts of the Indiana General Assembly.

An initial $ 5 million approved by the state budget committee will go towards the design of the facility, which executive director Chandler Lighty says will have enhanced archival capabilities for materials requiring ” rigorous conservation ”. Some documents, including those with shorter retention periods, will continue to be kept in the current warehouse.

The remaining funds could be used to secure a site for the new building.

An additional $ 5 million has been released to kick-start the design and design processes for a new state park, the first to be built in Indiana since 1939.

The new state budget further set aside more than $ 500 million for public safety and prison projects.

Almost half a billion dollars is budgeted for Northwest Indiana projects. The larger project – a $ 400 million reconstruction of the Westville Correctional Center in LaPorte County – will demolish and rebuild nearly all of the 76-year-old prison. The facility will include new housing, administration, programming and treatment facilities for inmates, according to the Indiana Department of Corrections.

The budget committee has so far approved $ 12 million for the start of architectural and engineering design work. Construction could start as early as 2022.

A second project will see the construction of a new Indiana State Police Station and a $ 25.5 million lab in Lowell. State police said constructing a station and laboratory in a building in Lowell would add needed space, strengthen operational functionality and improve energy efficiency.

The $ 70 million allocation to modernize the nearly 50-year-old Indiana Law Enforcement Academy training center in Plainfield, however, is being championed by lawmakers.

The academy, which trains about 65% of state officers, always determines what improvements are most needed, executive director Tim Horty said. Once this is decided, construction will likely take several years, but installation classes will continue.

“The initial expenses are to start the renovation of the campus and to orient us towards a more modern, adult-type learning environment, where students are more active and away from the classroom and a pen and pencil-type exam” , Horty mentioned.

Other large investment projects eligible for state dollars include a new Evansville police station and laboratory, a new consolidated campus for the Indiana School for the Deaf, and the Indiana School for the Blind and the Deaf. visually impaired, and improvements to the old GM stamping plant in Indianapolis.


Casey Smith is a member of the Associated Press / Report for America Statehouse News Initiative Corps. Report for America is a national, nonprofit service program that places reporters in local newsrooms to cover undercover issues.


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