One of the main arteries of Henry County could bring new life to the area.
Interstate 70 does more than just give locals a quick way to a Colts game. It gets products to market and employees to work.
The connection of Ind. 3 to I-70 is seen by local leaders as an important interchange for the New Castle and Spiceland communities.
“I think there’s diverse opportunity there,” said Corey Murphy, the president and CEO of the New Castle-Henry County Economic Development Corporation.
Murphy said the area beside the Mr. Fuel truck stop is ideal for businesses that appeal to interstate traffic. At the same time, it’s in a good location to benefit Henry County residents.
That area next to I-70 could support restaurants, a hotel or another commercial business, Murphy said.
“It also could be light industrial,” he said.
Murphy said it is easy to imagine a clean manufacturing plant or a logistics and distribution business fitting in there.
He noted the Spiceland RC Cola/7-Up business right down the road as an example of the possibilities.
“Low-impact. Super close to the interstate,” he said.
The site could likely fit a business that provides 20-50 jobs.
There is also room for growth north of the I-70/Ind. 3 exit.
An old hotel and boarded up gas station used to sit on that corner. Now, it’s the site of Victory Range Armory.
Murphy said the Henry County Redevelopment Corporation (RDC) is responsible for clearing the area and bringing the new business to Henry County.
The RDC acquired the land and tore down the old hotel and empty restaurant that formerly served as a welcome mat to New Castle.
RDC members also worked with Speedway to take down the defunct gas station that once stood there.
“We simply did that to improve the aesthetics of the interchange,” Murphy said.
The Henry County Redevelopment Commission did similar work with the G.W. Pierce Parkway. That project connected the New Castle Motorsports Park to Ind. 3.
The RDC cleared the area of unsightly brush and debris, Murphy said.
Now, people sitting at the stoplight aren’t looking at a pile of bricks.
Murphy said the Pierce Parkway construction project also improved drainage in the area, further preparing the land for future development.
Drainage is one of the important infrastructure pieces developers look for when considering whether or not to move their company to a new town.
The “tax increment financing” district at Ind. 109 and I-70 north of Knightstown is one example of local leaders trying to solve that issue.
The county can capture property tax money with a tax increment financing (TIF) district and use that revenue specifically for new development in that area.
“The purpose there is to have some funds for infrastructure,” Murphy said. “Water and sewer, specifically.”
Even with the TIF district in place, installing new water lines will be a big undertaking at that exit.
Like the interchange in Knightstown, it would take a lot to improve the infrastructure near New Lisbon. And that’s what it would take before that area can grow.
“I think that’s going to be a longer term conversation,” Murphy said.
The Indiana Department of Transportation is currently replacing the bridge in New Lisbon as part of the state’s own infrastructure improvement plan.
Murphy said the Henry County Comprehensive Plan calls for a study to figure out whether or not it would be feasible to add an interchange at Ind. 103 and I-70 between New Castle and Lewisville, as well.
He noted semi trucks from Crown Equipment in New Castle often turn off Ind. 103 onto CR 300 S and take Ind. 3 to the interstate.
Murphy said no one from Crown had talked to him about any issues with the current set up. He suspects, however, an interstate exit on Ind. 103 could help the company’s logistics.
– Story by Travis Weik of The Courier-Times. Read more local stories at www.thecouriertimes.com.