Spotlight Shines on 'Next Level Connections' Bill

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Governor Holcomb announced the Next Level Connections plan Tuesday morning in Martinsville. Governor Holcomb announced the Next Level Connections plan Tuesday morning in Martinsville.
MARTINSVILLE -

Indiana Office of Management and Budget Director Micah Vincent says the toll increase supporting Governor Eric Holcomb's $1 billion "Next Level Connections" plan will end up benefiting all involved. He says the agreement for a toll increase on heavy vehicles will fund the statewide quality of life projects as well as $50 million in improvements to the Indiana Toll Road over the next three years. State Rep. Pat Bauer (D-6) calls the move "another tax increase" that will raise prices on products hauled by trucks.

Governor Holcomb announced the Next Level Connections plan Tuesday afternoon in Martinsville, saying it consists of six focus points: speeding up major road projects, increasing broadband access, improving the state’s trail system, attracting more international flights, continuing work on a potential fourth port and pushing West Lake rail service and South Shore double-tracking projects.

The largest investment, $600 million, will go to speed up the I-69 expansion project, moving the completion date from 2027 to 2024. In his statement, Bauer said the money will support construction of the stretch between Martinsville and Indianapolis, "which is far from where the tax is going to be collected." Other improvements are set for US 20, US 30 and US 31.

The plan also calls for $100 million to boost broadband access, specifically in rural areas. In addition to benefits to individuals and businesses, Indiana Department of Transportation Strategic Communications Director Scott Manning says that department has a vested interest as well. He says technologies ranging from autonomous vehicles to digital road signs depend on high-speed broadband access.

You can read more about the Next Level Connections plan by clicking here.

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