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I-69 Section 5 Delayed Again, State Trying To Take Control

The state is trying to take control of I-69 Section 5 construction after repeated delays and issues with financing of the project.

The Indiana Finance Authority says in a statement it anticipates construction of the stretch of interstate from Bloomington to Martinsville will now be complete by August 31, 2018, nearly two years behind schedule.

Section 5 is being built through a public-private partnership between the state and I-69 Development Partners. According to an IFA analysis, there's only $72 million in funding available for the more than $236 million needed to complete Section 5. The IFA says it's offering to buy out the bonds and take the project over, but the bond holders haven't accepted the offer.

"At this time, the state is moving forward with the goal of assuming control of the project," IFA Public Finance Director Dan Huge said in a statement.

The IFA says if the state takes the project over, the expense won't exceed what it would have paid under the original public-private partnership. But, it's unclear how the remainder of the project would be funded and whether tax payers would foot any of the bill. The IFA says that won't be determined until negotiations with bond holders conclude.

The city of Bloomington sent out a press release in January saying the developer's parent company, Isolux Corsan, indicated it would not be able to complete the project until August 2018. But, the IFA said at the time the city's information was incorrect.

The project was supposed to be complete by October 2016, but the developer announced its first delay in April of last year. Several issues with construction followed, including a pay dispute that caused at least one subcontractor to walk off the job. Several local politicians called on the state to take over control of Section 5 construction following the dispute, but the IFA said at the time those requests were premature.

Most recently, Fitch Ratings downgraded the private activity bonds being used to fund the project in April, saying it's unclear where money will come from to complete construction.

Despite the overall delays with construction, the IFA says there will be four lanes of traffic open through the greater Bloomington area in August of this year.

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