Federal funds speed up major local highway projects


Motorist drive around the roundabout at County Road 144 and Whiteland Road Tuesday. In the last five years, the county has added at least three roundabouts and at least three others are planned. Scott Roberson / Daily Journal

When local governments have a major road or infrastructure project to tackle, such as a new roundabout or trail, they look to an Indianapolis-based group that is in charge of doling out millions in federal grant money.

Projects, including the reconstruction of Main Street in Franklin or the new roundabout at County Road 144 near Bargersville, wouldn’t have happened without federal funds that cover 80 percent of the costs of projects, local officials said. The Indianapolis Metropolitan Planning Organization serves as the gatekeeper for $47 million each year and is in charge of reviewing and awarding funding for about 150 to 250 projects each year.

The organization has approved about $76 million in projects for Johnson County from 2012 through 2015, ranging from helping cities and towns replace road signs to funding $25 million for the state to build a new Interstate 65 exit at Worthsville Road. But Johnson County received only a small slice of more than $1 billion in federal dollars for roads and bridges throughout Indianapolis and the surrounding counties.

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