I-69 and Interstates/Highways and Regional News and Transportation, Distribution & Logistics

Some still not sold on I-69 plans in southern Indiana

April 25, 2012

The complaints were quieter but still firm during the latest public hearing about plans for the Interstate 69 extension through southern Indiana.

Some 400 people turned out Tuesday night at the Monroe County Fairgrounds to see and comment on the state highway department's proposals for I-69 interchanges and access roads along the current Indiana 37 route between Bloomington and Martinsville, The Herald-Times reported.

About 20 people spoke against the plans, raising concerns focused on the loss of land, noise and air pollution, lack of bicycle access and money being diverted from local roads.

"This process is absurd and nothing that is said here makes any difference," Bloomington bike shop owner Jeanne Smith said.

Construction work is under way on a nearly 70-mile stretch of the highway from near Evansville to near Crane Naval Surface Warfare Center southwest of Bloomington, where opposition to the highway has been particularly intense since state officials selected its route a decade ago.

Tuesday's meeting was mostly courteous compared to when tempers flared during the last state-sponsored public hearing on the highway section in 2005.

But Hoosier Voices for I-69 representative Morgan Hutton was the only person to speak in favor of the project. Hutton praised the highway project and encouraged people "to keep educating themselves about the benefits."

The plans presented at the meeting covered alternatives for interchanges and access roads on the 21-mile stretch going north from Bloomington toward Indianapolis.

Two proposals use the existing Indiana 37 as an access road in several locations. Estimates for those plans are about $315 million. Other proposals use the pavement and structures of Indiana 37 in many locations and include narrower grassy medians and highway shoulders. Those proposals are estimated at $250 million to $267 million.

Another public hearing will be held after a final proposal for the section is released, which is expected this fall, said Cher Elliott, a spokeswoman for the Indiana Department of Transportation

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