June 6, 2018

Project Leaders Meet To Discuss Progress On I-69 Construction

Project leaders discussed plans for Interstate 69 sections 5 and 6 at the annual I-69 and P3 Summit in Bloomington. - Barbara Brosher/ WFIU-WTIU News

Project leaders discussed plans for Interstate 69 sections 5 and 6 at the annual I-69 and P3 Summit in Bloomington.

Barbara Brosher/ WFIU-WTIU News

Stakeholders came together for an annual summit in Bloomington Wednesday to talk about the status of Interstate 69.

The state took control of I-69 Section 5 last year, after the private developer it hired to build, finance and maintain the roadway ran into major financial problems and delays. Construction is expected to wrap up by the end of August, but that’s nearly two years behind schedule.

During a panel discussion, Indiana Department of Transportation Project Manager Sandra Flum says the experience could change how the state selects contractors for public-private partnerships in the future.

“If we put some sort of threshold on there that says they must be able to bring their own resources, just crafting that is something that we should look at for future opportunities to make sure they are capable of doing that,” Flum says.

Paving crews started overnight operations this week as the state works to meet the August deadline for construction on the stretch between Bloomington and Martinsville. Flum says they’re slated to finish on time.

“We will finish this in August of this year,” Flum says. “Our executive office laughingly says August 32 it will be open.”

And Public Relations Manager Andy Dietrick says drivers will notice significant changes around Bloomington before then.

“At the end of this week we will be opening three of the four legs of the Sample Road interchange,” Dietrick says. “The northbound on ramp will be coming a few weeks after that.”

Construction on the final section of I-69 from Martinsville to Indianapolis will start in late 2019. It will be completed in five different segments. The state will use its traditional Design-Bid-Build model to build the first few segments. That involves hiring a consultant to do the design, then hiring a contractor to build the interstate.

The state says the Marion County portion of Section 6 will likely be completed using a public-private partnership. But officials say it will be a different arrangement than the failed partnership the state entered into to complete Section 5 of the interstate. The state plans to use what’s called a Design-Build-Best-Value model.

“It allows the contractors and consulting teams to have a bit more of an innovative and possibly some better approaches on how we can deliver the project that adds value to the state,” says Indiana Department of Transportation Project Manager Jim Earl. “For example, they may have an acceleration that will allow the project to be under construction one year less than what we expected.”

Earl says the partnership allows INDOT to maintain power over managing the risks of the project.

He says while the state has committed to funding the final stretch of I-69, it’s unclear where the money will come from.

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