KOKOMO, Ind. (AP) A federal agency has approved state plans to build a new U.S. 31 bypass around the city that is the most-congested stretch of the highway between Indianapolis and South Bend.
The Federal Highway Administration approval means the project can move toward design and land acquistion stages and then a 2009 construction start, according to a statement from the Indiana Department of Transportation.
“This is a major milestone for the citizens of Indiana, especially those who routinely fight traffic in and around Kokomo,” said Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman in the statement. “The fifteen signals that disrupt the free flow of traffic around the city will soon be gone.”
Kokomo is 50 mi. north of Indianapolis on the 130-mi. trip to South Bend in northern Indiana.
Federal officials now have approved two of the three phases for the $1.1 billion upgrade of U.S. 31 between Indianapolis and South Bend. New construction also is scheduled for Hamilton and St. Joseph counties. The entire project is scheduled to be completed by 2017.
The upgrades are being funded by proceeds from the $3.8 billion lease of the Indiana Toll Road as part of Gov. Mitch Daniels’ Major Moves program.