A few years ago, the area of Franklin, Indiana, where the Interstate 65 interchange exists today was rough and rife with potholes.

Former Franklin Mayor Joe McGuinness campaigned on a platform to rebuild Franklin’s infrastructure and attract investment in the city — and he kept his promises.

Strong negotiation skills and innovative financing solutions helped Joe and former City Engineer Travis Underhill transform the State Road 44 corridor into a vibrant gateway for the community.


Build relationships with the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) to secure funding and ownership, improve a state road — and revitalize a town along the way.


State Road 44 is the main east-west road through the city of Franklin, Indiana, where it’s also known as Jefferson and King streets. In 2012, the road was in a state of disrepair. In downtown Franklin, parts of the road were so worn down the original brick pavers showed.

At the time, INDOT owned and operated State Road 44. Previous attempts to partner with INDOT to improve the road, including pursuing relinquishment, had been unsuccessful.

Relinquishment is the process by which the state, through INDOT, grants authority over a road facility to a local unit of government, typically including funding resources. This allows local authorities to assume operational control of the road and rehabilitate it as they see fit.


In 2012, Joe McGuinness is elected Mayor of Franklin and appoints Travis Underhill as City Engineer. Joe and Travis immediately begin building relationships with officials and contacts at INDOT. By spring 2013, the two start discussing relinquishment of State Road 44 relinquishment and how to collaborate with INDOT on a plan to support it. This marks the beginning of a $20 million journey that will remake the city of Franklin.


In autumn 2013, the city of Franklin accepts INDOT’s proposal to provide nearly $13 million in federal funding over a multiyear period. The state also immediately transfers $80,000 in cash to the city. The arrangement allows Franklin to use the funds to earn matching dollars toward future federal funding opportunities.

The city assumes operational responsibility for State Road 44 in April 2014. Joe and Travis immediately have the worst sections of the road repaved. Meanwhile, they begin to reimagine and design a complete reconstruction of nearly the entire gateway to the downtown core of Franklin.

Review a project summary.


Joe and Travis help transform Franklin with:

  • Matching federal grants. Using initial federal funding to secure matching funds, Franklin adds three more federal grants to the original, bringing the total in federal funding to more than $20 million.
  • A rebuilt road. The funding covers reconstruction of nearly all of the original State Road 44 corridor.
  • Infrastructure improvements. Along with the road, the city replaces sewers and sidewalks and adds trails within city limits.
  • A new industrial bypass. The city dedicates an industrial bypass so trucks don’t have to travel through the downtown core.
  • Four new roundabouts. The extra funds give Franklin a head start on the construction of four new roundabouts and a trail along the bypass corridor.



Joe McGuinness is elected Mayor of Franklin, Indiana. Travis Underhill becomes Franklin’s City Engineer.


Spring: Joe and Travis begin conversations with INDOT about State Road 44.

Fall: Franklin accepts $13 million in federal funding via INDOT and $80,000 from the State of Indiana to revitalize a nearly four-mile section of State Road 44 within Franklin city limits.


  • The city of Franklin takes over operational responsibility for the State Road 44 corridor and immediately repaves the worst sections of the road.
  • Franklin is awarded the first installment of additional federal funding for Jefferson Street in the downtown core of the city.
  • Franklin is awarded federal funding to add a pedestrian trail along the former State Road 44 bypass corridor.


  • The city of Franklin reconstructs the first section of Jefferson Street (formerly State Road 44) just west of U.S. 31 using local funding, setting the tone for future phases.
  • The second installment of federal funding is added to a portion of King Street (former State Road 44) on the east end of the corridor adjacent to Interstate 65.
  • A third installment of federal funding is awarded to the city to rebuild an intersection on the west end of the corridor as a roundabout and a gateway from the west.


  • Franklin adds a fourth installment of federal funding for the corridor to complete pedestrian enhancements between the first reconstructed phase and the western roundabout.
  • Gateway construction is completed at the I-65 interchange, reinventing Franklin’s eastern entrance to the city.
  • Corridor reconstruction begins with the first phase of Jefferson Street in the downtown core, thus beginning a nine-phase project.


Construction continues on the remaining eight phases of the corridor project as Joe McGuinness and Travis Underhill take on new roles at INDOT.

“Joe McGuinness is a collaborator. He understands all levels and facets of leadership and government, and how private sector partners come alongside to make projects work.”

Chris Jensen

Mayor of Noblesville, Indiana

“Joe McGuinness and Travis Underhill leave no stone unturned. They don’t go in with tunnel vision or one thing in mind. They’re open to any solution, and they look for the best solution.”

Rex Dillinger

Former Common Council Member and business owner in Noblesville, Indiana

“When you get Travis Underhill to make sure people are flowing and Joe McGuinness to make sure money is flowing, you end up with a project that moves.”

Gary Pool

County Engineer, Hancock County, Indiana

Life cycle planning reduces backlog by 53% compared to a worst-first approach.

$20 MILLION: Federal funds sourced by Avenew leaders for Franklin, Indiana, from 2013-2016.

Asset management helps maintain infrastructure performance for at least 10 years.

As Mayor and City Engineer of Franklin, Indiana, Joe McGuinness and Travis Underhill rebuilt Franklin’s infrastructure and attracted investment in the city. At Avenew, Joe and Travis put their skills to work to help others achieve similar goals. What could they do for you?

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