Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

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October 24, 2013

Officials celebrate Hoosier Heartland opening

The conclusion of a more than 30-year state project was celebrated in Logansport Wednesday as state and local officials gathered to praise and reflect on the new Ind. 25 Hoosier Heartland Corridor.

In 1982, the state first began exploring the feasibility of replacing the old, two-lane Ind. 25 with a four-lane, limited access highway that would connect Ind. 69 in Fort Wayne to U.S. 65 in Lafayette. After funding was secured and various segments of the highway opened over the decades, the final stretch of the project from Delphi to Logansport was opened Friday.

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, state and local officials and community members of the three counties the highway crosses gathered to celebrate the conclusion of the road Wednesday at Ivy Tech Community College and the Logansport/Cass County Airport. Those who spoke said the new highway will make travel safer, faster and lead to economic development.

Many of the speakers praised former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels’ Major Moves plan, which in 2006 leased the Indiana Toll Road to two foreign companies for 75 years for $3.8 billion. This sum was distributed toward highway projects across the state, including the new Ind. 25.

Addressing the crowd of hundreds at Ivy Tech Wednesday, State Rep. Bill Friend recalled how before Major Moves, the highway could only be funded and completed one section at a time.

“Without Major Moves, our struggles would be continuing,” he said.

Daniels could not attend the event, as he was in Washington, D.C.

Federal funding for the project was secured through the efforts of Steve Buyer, former U.S. representative for Indiana’s fourth and fifth congressional districts.

Buyer said it took more than money to finish the highway, particularly the unity he felt was established across party lines.

“Political affiliation didn’t matter,” the Republican said, going on to praise the collaboration from a former Democratic Indiana governor, the late Frank O’Bannon.

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