Ind. creates 'superhighway'

The information superhighway will meet the asphalt highway in Indiana. The

state is accepting bids from companies to use the right of way along the

157-mile stretch of the Indiana Toll Road to install a high-speed, broadband

telecommunications infrastructure. The state hopes to select a vendor in

the fall.

Officials say it's the first such effort in the state to open up interstate

rights of way. "The idea is that if there's access, it will benefit schools,

businesses, everybody," said Cheryl Reed, a spokeswoman for Indiana Gov.

Frank O'Bannon.

State officials said installing new telecommunications routes will support

broadband networking applications for state and local governments, universities,

colleges, schools, libraries and rural health networks. It also could allow

for future electronic toll-collection facilities and other computerized

services.

Three state agencies — the Indiana Transportation Finance Authority,

which owns the toll road; the Indiana Department of Transportation; and

the Intelenet Commission, the state's technology advisory panel — worked

on the project. Approved bidders will be given nonexclusive access to the

right of way in exchange for reasonable compensation, Reed said.

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