INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Federal Highway Administration is reviewing the prices Indiana paid to acquire land for the Interstate 69 extension to Evansville and other highway projects across the state, a report Sunday said.
Such reviews can result in the forfeiture of federal funds, The Indianapolis Star reported Sunday. In a 2009 Nebraska case, the highway administration pulled back $6.9 million from an $11.4 million project.
A portion of the federal investigation conducted at the Indiana Department of Transportation’s Indianapolis office concluded last week.
“We are still analyzing the findings and have no report yet,” the FHA said in a statement.
INDOT spokesman Will Wingfield issued a statement Sunday saying the agency follows state and federal land acquisition laws. He also said three sections of the I-69 extension that opened to traffic in November came in about $300 million below early cost estimates.
“Our partners at (the FHA) routinely review INDOT’s performance, and we are currently working with them to review our land acquisition performance over the past few years,” Wingfield said.
The Star recently reported Indiana offered $7 million for 32 properties that its appraisers had valued at $3.34 million. In some instances, the settlement documents did not explain the justifications for the inflated payments.
State Sen. Brent Waltz, R-Greenwood, said the federal review couldn’t have come at a worse time.
“At a time when there are furious discussions in some circles in the Indiana General Assembly even to raise taxes to fund transportation, it’s very disappointing when state government has jeopardized tens of millions of dollars in funding for not doing what they should have done in the first place,” Waltz said.
Indiana has received $626 million in federal funds for the I-69 project. This year, it’s scheduled to receive $807 million in federal transportation funds for all projects combined.
Gov. Mike Pence last week directed his top ethics officer, Inspector General David Thomas, to investigate the purchase of land owned by Troy Woodruff, INDOT’s chief of staff, and his family as part of the I-69 project between Evansville and Indianapolis.
The Star said Woodruff failed to inform the state that he had sold land as part of the project and that six land deals netted $1.8 million for Woodruff’s uncle and cousins. Woodruff has said he had no involvement with I-69 land purchases other than a nearly 3-acre Daviess County parcel he owned with his brother and father.
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Republicans to vote on new trustee
Republicans from Washington Township will meet today to vote on a new township trustee.
Fifteen committee chairmen from Washington Township will vote at 8:45 a.m. today to fill the position following the death of Albert “Pete” Showalter, who died on April 13.
North, Owens 'Play' hard
North Elementary School celebrated its field day Friday with games, ice cream, inflatable fun houses and Indianapolis Colts cheerleaders.
B-R to graduate 41
Barr-Reeve High School will hold its 48th commencement exercises on May 25, in the high school gymnasium at 2 p.m. Again this year, the graduation will be an afternoon affair.
1:03 a.m. - Karen Hulsey, of 511 S. Meridian St. reported a subject possibly hiding the bushes behind her residence. She stated she didn’t see anyone, but could hear coughing.
School board approves new handbooks
Members of the Washington Community Schools Board approved the 2013- 2014 school handbooks. Elementary, junior high and high school student handbooks will now be more streamlined with one another. One major change to the handbooks will be a stricter attendance policy for students. Currently, students in the school district can have 10 unexcused absences per semester.
Unchained Gang roars into park
The Daviess County Unchained Gang will be hosting its 11th annual motorcycle show and swap meet Saturday at Eastside Park from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
DECA to sponsor dodgeball tourney
Members of the Washington High School DECA Chapter will be hosting a DECA Dodgeball Tournament on Tuesday in the Hatchet House beginning at 6:30 p.m.
Road paving in Washington
The Indiana Department of Transportation is advising motorists to be aware of temporary lane restrictions on Bus. 50 in Washington. Beginning on or after Monday, May 20, crews will be spot paving throughout the city. Work will be accomplished one lane at a time and utilize flag persons to control traffic through the work zones. Work activities are scheduled to take place between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. each day with all paving operations anticipated to be complete by May 24. Inclement weather will cancel the work operation for the day.
7:56 p.m. - A complainant on E. Nat'l Hwy. reported there was a truck popped open playing very loud music.
2:19 p.m. - Dave Waters, 200 1/2 SE 7th St., reported that someone had broken into his storage building and broke the windows out of the vehicles stored there. Waters also said that someone had smashed in the roofs on many of the vehicles. Extra patrol was requested.
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- Republicans to vote on new trustee