Senate Bill 517  – Utility Relocation for Road Projects
Authored by Sen. Randy Head (R-Logansport)

This bill provides that if a utility hasn’t acted – to comply, apply for a waiver or appeal – within 90 days after receiving an order from the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) to relocate utility facilities that will interfere with a planned construction project involving the state highway system, then INDOT can take matters into its own hands. INDOT may relocate, or cause the relocation of, the utility’s facilities, or may file a complaint in the appropriate court for an emergency order to compel the utility to relocate the facilities. Full details.

Chamber Position: Oppose

The Latest: The Senate Utilities Committee heard the bill on Thursday and adopted an amendment that was introduced in the hearing. The amended bill would codify an existing INDOT rule and add up to a $20,000 fine for utilities that fail to relocate their infrastructure in accordance with the law. Two witnesses spoke in favor of the legislation, while nine spoke in opposition. The bill passed out of the committee, 10-0, with the commitment that Sen. Head would continue to work on the bill with the interested groups. The bill is now eligible for further action on the Senate floor.

Chamber Action/Commentary: The Indiana Chamber testified in opposition to this bill. The Chamber supports the timely construction and/or repair of roads in Indiana. However, we have concerns that this bill has a very strong potential to interrupt key utility services and drive up costs that will be passed along to the ratepayers. INDOT and county governments should not be relocating utility infrastructure. The utilities have the expertise and are better situated to move their own infrastructure or explore alternative plans.

Resource: Greg Ellis at (317) 264-6881 or email: gellis@indianachamber.com