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I-69 extension segment receives state financing

– A state agency is preparing $250 million in financing to help a private developer pay for construction of the latest segment of Indiana’s Interstate 69 extension.

The developer chosen to build the 21-mile stretch of highway from Bloomington to Martinsville will repay the tax-exempt bonds, the Evansville Courier & Press reported.

Bond documents estimate the total cost of the project at $370 million, with the state paying $80 million up front and making annual payments to I-69 Development Partners for 35 years.

The project will upgrade much of the existing Indiana 37 to interstate standards for the I-69 extension that is planned to eventually connect Indianapolis and Evansville.

The state made up to $400 million in bonds available for the project, but I-69 Development Partners didn’t need the full amount, said Will Wingfield, an Indiana Department of Transportation spokesman.

The state should issue the bonds this month and construction could begin this year on the Bloomington-to-Martinsville section. Wingfield said a construction timetable will be set once a final financing agreement on the terms of the public-private partnership is signed.

Crews currently are clearing trees, moving utilities and demolishing structures to prepare for construction.

“Throughout the procurement, we encouraged the proposers to approach the design, construction and maintenance of the project in a way that maximizes value to the taxpayers while still delivering a quality product,” Wingfield said.

The state paid up front for the first phases of the I-69 extension from Evansville to Bloomington, using money from the $3.8 billion long-term lease of the Indiana Toll Road and a traditional combination of state and federal funding.

A 67-mile stretch of I-69 opened in 2012 from near Evansville at I-64 to near the Crane Naval Surface Warfare Center southwest of Bloomington. Construction is underway on a 27-mile section between Bloomington and Crane that is expected to open by early next year.