In a letter sent Tuesday to I-69 Development Partners, the Indiana Finance Authority said the developer owes more than $9 million to subcontractors hired to help build Section 5 of the interstate, which will run from Bloomington to Martinsville. The project is being completed through a public-private partnership.
The letter comes after one subcontractor halted work on the project this week after not getting paid. The IFA’s letter says I-69 Development Partners owes Bloomington-based Crider and Crider $2.3 million.
“I’ve got a question for Mike Pence, who’s running around trying to be vice president of the United States,” says Jackie Yenna, president of the White River Chapter of the Southern Indiana Regional Labor Council. “If you can’t step in and help out the people of your own state, how in the world are you going to be expected to step in and help the people of 50 states?”
Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton echoed those frustrations. He says he’s not satisfied with what he’s hearing from Indianapolis, and the state needs to step in to ensure timely completion of Section 5.
“In a project that was to be completed within the next month, we now face it seems at least another year of construction — perhaps significantly longer,” Hamilton says. “Every week it’s not completed is a week of inconvenience, lost productivity and loss of life and limb.”
Another pay dispute earlier this year also halted work on Section 5 for a brief period.
“The State of Indiana is holding its contractors and developers accountable,” Kara Brooks, spokesperson for Gov. Pence, said in a statement. “Any accusations to the contrary are just a sad attempt to score political points.”
The IFA’s letter said if I-69 Development Partners doesn’t address the issue within 30 days it could result in a developer default. According to the public-private agreement, one of the options the IFA has in that event is to take control of the project. But IFA Director Dan Huge said in a statement a call to take back the project is premature.
“I-69 between Bloomington and Martinsville is being built on an aggressive construction schedule, and will be completed at a significant savings to taxpayers,” Huge said in the statement. “Public-private agreements, on the whole, have saved taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars in building one of the largest highway projects currently in progress in the United States — and providing resources to deliver quality infrastructure throughout Indiana.”