Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Governor Daniels - Say What ?

Like many of you, we sat around the television last night, watching Governor Daniels' last State of the State speech.  There are many lines that many people certainly took exception to (those of you who showed up at the Statehouse - we could hear you).  But, there is one line I want to bring to the forefront this morning, if only to be sure the taxpayers of Indiana know what is really going on.

Daniels briefly touched on the INDOT / Kentucky DOT two bridges project to span the Ohio River crossing into Louisville.  He declared that this project will put Indiana in the forefront of public-private partnerships.  Say what Governor Daniels?  You are really going to go there?

It just so happens that a series of blog posts are currently in process about these very Ohio bridges, being penned by the much respected urbanist, Aaron Renn, over at his blog, the Urbanophile.  The series is titled "Indiana's Bridge Deal Boondoggle".

For those of you unfamiliar with INDOT, this will be an eye opener.  For those who are all too familiar with INDOT, be cautious when reading - there is danger of occular strain for all of the eye rolling you will experience.

In Monday's post, "Part 1: A Financial Fiasco", Renn relates how INDOT shaved $1.5 billion off the cost of the projects.  That's a good thing, right?  Well, simultaneously, INDOT managed to increase the cost to Indiana taxpayers by $200 million and save the Kentucky taxpayers $1.7 billion (that's $1700 million).  Talk about pulling defeat from the jaws of victory.

In yesterday's post, "Part 2: Hoosiers to Pay Even More With Tolling", Renn reveals that the States have a plan to toll the bridges, but no plan on how to divide the toll revenue.  He also analyses who might pay more in tolls, Indiana travellers or Kentucky travellers.

I highly recommend Renn's series.  He makes it easy to follow.  It's not Renn's writing style that is hard to understand, it is how INDOT could let this happen to Indiana taxpayers and those cities and towns that will lose projects in order to pay for INDOT's mistakes.

[edited to add]  Renn's third installment is now available.  This is a drama all its own in "Part 3: INDOT's Mini-Big Dig".  Renn leads us from one bread crumb to another; from showing how excessive the cost to Indiana taxpayers to build a bridge terminating tunnel under posh digs at a preliminary cost of $795 million for 1.4 miles of roadway, through to the point that the Indiana Constitution just might prohibit the State from building a road in another State.  Its a flabbergasting read.

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