Editor’s note: Herald-Times reporter Michael Malik reported last week that the Indiana Department of Transportation has decided to withhold millions of dollars of transportation funding to the City of Bloomington over disputes about the proposed I-69/NAFTA Highway. What follows is Mayor Mark Kruzan’s response.

November 12, 2009

Michael W. Reed, Commissioner
Indiana Department of Transportation
IOCN Room 755
100 North Senate Avenue
Indianapolis, IN 46204

Dear Commissioner Reed,

I have always appreciated INDOT's as well as the Daniels Administration's willingness to work with the Bloomington/Monroe County Metropolitan Planning Organization and our city on important local initiatives. In particular, INDOT's cooperative partnership with the City of Bloomington on the B-Line Trail project has been a model both state and city government can point to with pride.

It is in that spirit that I write to note that I was surprised and disappointed to read the story in the Bloomington Herald-Times that indicates that INDOT is withholding funding for transportation projects within our MPO' s area. We have not been contacted by INDOT about such an action but are only learning of the issue via local media.

Questions MPO members have asked about the issue have not been clearly responded to in the past. Most importantly, the City's acquisition of the hardship property in Monroe County eliminated a potential discrepancy between the State TIP and the local TIP; at least that was certainly the intent.

Since our MPO has not been provided with any documentation from INDOT concerning the possible withholding of transportation monies, I request that INDOT provide the MPO with an explanation of the current situation. In this explanation, the following questions are of paramount importance:

  • Has INDOT made a determination to withhold funds within the Bloomington/Monroe County MPO area? If so, how and when will this determination be conveyed to the MPO?

  • If this action is being taken by INDOT, on what basis is such a determination being made? Because INSTIP incorporates our local MPO projects by referencing our TIP, it is certainly our understanding that the MPO's TIP is consistent with INSTIP. If this is not the case, then an explanation is warranted. We are in the process of reviewing TIPs from both organizations to ascertain any discrepancies.

  • What is the specific impact if such a determination has been made? To date, inclusion of ARRA-funded local transportation projects into the INSTIP appears to be proceeding along without many problems. It is important for our MPO membership to understand what projects and what funding streams may be impacted by such a potential decision.

    Once again, given the past cooperative efforts that have occurred between our two agencies over the years , I was surprised to read this announcement without having an opportunity to discuss it with INDOT first. I'm proud of the success the State of Indiana and the City of Bloomington and other local agencies have had in implementing ARRA stimulus dollars as well as other federal and state funding, and I believe all of our constituents have been well served by our cooperative ventures .

    Obviously, INDOT and the City of Bloomington have been at odds over the construction of 1-69. I respect that INDOT believes the project is in the best interests of the state. I would hope that INDOT would respect that there are others who sincerely believe it is not in the best interests of our community. Withholding state and federal funding from all citizens -- all taxpayers -- within an entire county to make a larger point surely is not the best manner in which to resolve these differences.

    I had a successful meeting with your predecessor, and I would offer to sit down at any time to discuss how best to proceed .

    Respectfully yours,

    Mark Kruzan
    City of Bloomington

    cc Mitch Daniels, Governor
    Evan Bayh, United States Senator
    Richard Lugar, United States Senator
    Joan DeBoer, US Department of Transportation Secretary Chief of Staff
    Victor Mendez, Federal Highway Administration Administrator
    Vi Simpson, Senate Minority Leader
    Peggy Welch, House Ways & Means Committee Budget Subcommittee Chair
    Matt Pierce, State Representative
    Terri Austin, House Roads & Transportation Committee Chair
    Tom Wyss, Senate Homeland Security , Transportation & Veteran's Affairs Committee Chair
    Kent McDaniel, Bloomington & Monroe County MPO Chair
    Tom Micuda, Planning Director - City of Bloomington