$25 Million 146th Street Extension 'A Giant Step'

$25 Million 146th Street Extension 'A Giant Step'

$25 Million 146th Street Extension 'A Giant Step'

March 16, 2004 - Noblesville Ledger

By: Joanna Hensley

Noblesville – City officials aren’t the only people saying Friday’s agreement with the county to fund a 146th Street extension from Indiana 37 to Interstate 69 will pave the way for significant business growth.

“This is a great step that will pay big dividends for the city and Hamilton County,” said Rick Arnos, president of Republic Development. “It’s going to alleviate traffic burdens and help link us to (U.S.) 31 and Noblesville.”

Arnos’ company is developing Saxony – the corporate campus’ first development – near Interstate 69 and Greenfield Avenue. The 280-acre site will offer three million square feet of office, warehouse and industrial space and will eventually link to an extended 146th Street.

Arnos said Saxony is pursuing life-science businesses and corporate headquarters to fill the development, which in 10 years is expected to employ 5,000 people. No major users have signed on to Saxony, but Arnos said it is “generating a lot of interest.”

“This is another case of Noblesville being forward-thinking,” he said of the city’s efforts to fund infrastructure, including 146th Street,” and that’s what it takes to be competitive nationwide. It’s going to make a user looking to come here think this is a community that’s got its act together.”

The agreement hammered out Friday between Mayor John Ditslear and the county commissioners will be taken with them March 24-26 on a lobbying trip to Washington, D.C., where they will ask for federal money for the road.

The city and county hope to begin design for the estimated $25 million, four-lane, road this year and start construction by late 2006. Payment for the road may not begin until 2011.

“Blood is now pumping into the corporate campus,” said Ditslear, referring to 3,200 acres surrounding the road earmarked for commercial growth.

“There’s been a lot of buzz about the (corporate campus) project,” said Sharon McMahon, Noblesville Chamber of Commerce president, predicting interest will accelerate soon.

Like Ditslear, McMahon sees the 146th Street extension as critical to the corporate campus’ success.

According to the agreement, nine access points – five of which will have traffic lights – will be allowed on the 3 ½ mile extension. The city asked for 10 but negotiated it down to nine.

Commissioners were concerned that too many access points would slow traffic and cause safety problems. The county’s main goal in funding the road, commissioner Steve Dillinger said, is to create a safe, countywide traffic-mover to the interstate.

“If you allow that corridor to back up, “he told city representatives Friday, “you’re going to discourage growth in the corporate campus because you’re not moving people through it.”

Ditslear believes the compromises will keep traffic moving and allow economic development to begin at full-speed. The city will be able to offer developers four restricted access points along 146th Street – two of which will be restricted further if the city changes zoning for properties along the road, if increased traffic makes them unsafe or when the road is widened. The rest of the businesses will be accessed by interior roads.

The city is completing a four-phase effort to promote the corporate campus among businesses and developers. It has created a strategic economic development plan and expects to release two studies later this month that make a 3-D model of 146th Street and suggest how to pursue businesses.

The final component, a marketing plan, should be completed in May.

Noblesville offered two weeks ago to fund 146th Street construction – an estimated $18 million project – if the county agreed to fund more than $5 million in land acquisition and design costs. Friday, commissioners agreed to split all costs 50-50 – except for landscaping and utility burial, which the city has agreed to fund on its own.

Ditslear called the new agreement fair and believes city council members are willing to split costs. The agreement reached by the mayor and commissioners must be approved by city and county councils.

“The (Noblesville) council is on board with this,” Ditslear said. “They know what they need to do to get this funded.”

The city and county have received $10 million in state and federal funds to construct the road. The rest of the money likely will come from property taxes collected in the corporate campus’ tax – increment finance district, a property-tax bond and federal funds.

If officials receive no more grant money by the 2006 construction date, there is a possibility that property tax payments from the area will fall $1.2 million short of funding the bond. That’s why commissioners hope to delay the first payment of the bond until 2011, buying time for more property tax and federal money to come in.

Officials will ask the federal government next week for $3 million each year for four years – which will significantly reduce the amount of the bond purchased in 2006. Mike Howard, the city and county’s attorney, said every dollar of federal money received reduces the bond amount by $1.20.