US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has approved boosting the Federally-funded share of the US 31 Hamilton County Improvement Project in Indiana from 80% to 90% of the total cost of the project.

The increase represents approximately $23m in additional funds from the original 80% match.

The US 31 Hamilton County Improvement Project is the first to benefit from a new provision in surface transportation legislation, called Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21). This allows the secretary to increase the federal match on critical freight projects.

LaHood stated that new flexibilities in MAP-21 make it easier for states to move important freight projects forward.

"Freight movement is critical to building a strong economy, and we support Indiana’s commitment to this very important project," he said.

The US 31 Project is part of a larger Indianapolis to South Bend corridor that the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) is rebuilding to handle increasing traffic.

More than 6,600 trucks are expected to use this corridor every day after construction work is finished.

The project will upgrade the US 31 to interstate standards. It will also be converted to a limited-access freeway, with entry and exit points allowed at only some interchanges to ease the flow of traffic. It involves 13 miles of new alignment, widening of lanes from four to six and the construction of nine new interchanges.

The latest fund increase will enable INDOT to use $207m in federal dollars towards meeting the complete project cost of $230m.

Federal Highway Administration administrator Victor Mendez said that the US 31 project will relieve congestion and reduce the time it takes to deliver merchandise.

"It’s a win-win-win for residents, businesses and commerce," he added.