Cost management was the operative phrase in the introduction this month of a highway executive to manage the Interstate
69 extension to Evansville.
Indiana Department of Transportation Commissioner Michael Reed tapped Sam Sarvis, who was district deputy for the agency’s Vincennes division, as new deputy commissioner of major program management.
Last spring, INDOT revealed that what was once to be a $1.8 billion, 142-mile interstate extension was likely to cost north of $3 billion. The higher estimated costs primarily involved two sections totaling 54 miles from Crane to Oakland City.
Among other reasons, INDOT blamed a double-digit rise in inflation affecting construction and the price of a more environmentally friendly bridge spanning the Patoka National Wildlife Refuge in Oakland City.
“Initially, Sam’s focus will be on I-69, so we can manage costs and delivery dates for what is the priority Major Moves project in Indiana,” Reed said.
Sarvis cited the economic benefits of the project and said he would work with major parties “on the challenge of controlling costs on this multibillion-dollar project.”
INDOT started the first 1.8-mile leg of the project last summer near I-64, north of Evansville. Citizen groups, including Citizens Action Coalition, say INDOT should scrap the I-69 route and instead modify Interstate 70 and U.S. 41, citing rising costs and environmental threats of a new-terrain route.•