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I-69 rejection could affect bus service in Bloomington

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Buses in Bloomington and on the Indiana University campus could lose funding starting in 2014 if local officials don't include Interstate 69 in their transportation infrastructure plans.

The current transportation plan, called a TIP, ends in June 2013. The Bloomington/Monroe County Metropolitan Planning Organization's policy committee voted in May to exclude I-69 construction from a plan covering fiscal years 2012-15, citing concerns about how it will be funded, its environmental impact and the location of interchanges.

State officials say they need the group's backing to spend federal money on a 1.75-mile intended link with Indiana 37 near Bloomington. Republican Sens. Richard Lugar and Dan Coats and seven of Indiana's nine congressmen have urged the group change its mind on the 142-mile Indianapolis-to-Evansville highway, which is estimated to cost nearly $3 billion to build.

"Completion of the I-69 project will enhance Indiana's interstate network by linking all four corners of the state with Indianapolis," they said in a letter to Mayor Mark Kruzan. "The direct route from Evansville to the state capitol will create a corridor that will encourage private sector investment and help create much-needed jobs for our fellow citizens."

The state highway department has asked the group to reconsider its opposition.

If the group votes against including the highway in its transportation plan, the Indiana Department of Transportation will withhold federal funding not just for local highway projects, but also for local transit systems including Bloomington Transit, Rural Transit and the IU Campus Bus system, starting in 2014, The Herald-Times reported.

Kent McDaniel, who represents the Bloomington Transit board of directors on the policy committee, said the entire county would be affected if the state rejects the local transportation infrastructure plan that covers 2014 and 2015. County transportation services stand to lose nearly $30 million in federal funding for those years.

McDaniel said that would mean no new federal money to replace buses, expand the bus garage or address other future needs.

"Saying 'no' to federal funding is, I would say, crippling to public transit," said Richard Martin, chairman of the panel's I-69 subcommittee.

I-69 opponent Tom Tokarski said he isn't sure federal funding cuts for local transit would happen.

Tokarski noted Gov. Mitch Daniels will be out of office and a new administration will be making transportation spending decisions before the federal cutoff would occur.

Opponent Mark Stoops agreed.

"Any incoming governor is going to look at the price of running I-69 from Bloomington to Indy and consider, 'Would that be a good investment?'" Stoops said.

Stoops said losing federal transportation funds would be a short-term challenge, but I-69 would be "here forever."

"I think the consequences of cuts to short-term funding because we do not approve I-69 are less than long-term costs of having I-69 in Monroe County," Stoops said. "I can't imagine that any future governor is going to want to pursue I-69, knowing the costs and difficulty."

Policy Committee President Jack Baker, however, said he is resigned that I-69 will be completed.

"I don't want it, I don't like it, but I think it is inevitable," he said.

The panel is scheduled to take up the issue again Nov. 4.

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  • Understand......
    Do you supporters realize what you are supporting? You are making a case to spend BILLIONS of dollars on a project to recreate something that already exists and the project will be reduced in quality to "save" money so we will have more upkeep costs than normal and will have to come from a fund that can't cover what we already have. We could directly subsidize a bunch of businesses with that money and not have the upkeep costs if that is your goal?
  • Not so fast
    One of the main justifications for this was to service the trade from canada to the No. Mexico factories built by American firms to
    outsource jobs previously held by Americans.
    Now it makes much less sense unless we can get the Mexicans to build the I-369 Spur to
    Viet Nam and China, where the outsourced jobs
    were outsourced again. BTW the great job
    generator of the area, Crane NW, was given
    recent support for future new development
    w/o any guarantee 69 would be finished.
  • Enough, already!
    I-69 / SR 37 Indianapolis to Evansville. The only "new" part is the link from south of Bloomington to Evansville, the bypass around Martinsville, and some bridges and interchanges between Martinsville and I-465 (including the bypass around the existing built-up area along SR 37 between I-465 and County Line Rd). Cutting the intersecting roads' access to SR 37 and replacing the crossovers with bridges (or interchanges, such as at Waverley, forex) where the crossing road is important enough will do the job nicely. That stretch of SR 37 was built to be "interstate quality"; putting I-69 on the existing right-of-way is a no brainer... and would improve safety along that stretch. Hey, Bloomington businesses along College/Walnut and Matlock Rd.! Wanna go broke? Allow the state to bypass Bloomington with I-69, and watch your business dry up, as all those football and basketball fans take alternate routes! Imagine the hoopla if the present SR 37 hadn't been built, and all those sports fans had to try and navigate OLD SR37 through Morgan Monroe Forest... two-lanes all the way, and all hills and curves, no passing for miles and miles.... Building I-69 is another order of magnitude improvement... this time, all the way to Evansville. Or don't you think that there are IU sports fans in Evansville???
  • Just do it
    Justr build it and the nuts will find something ese to complain about. If Bloomington / Monroe County doesn't want it, shift it a county west. Have you seen the factories / warehouses on I-65 at exit 64 (State rd 58)? I can't guarantee that each interchange on I-69 will be like that but I bet Owen County woulkd like a piece of Monroe County's action....
    • So much for local control
      Whatever merit there is for a new terrain 69, at what price are we willing to be rolled by state officials to get it? First the toll issue fully rejected by the electorate, yet proposal after proposal to
      get half measures passed for 69, or the NW
      toll road, or the Commerce Connector no one
      wanted to fund the new road. Then tweaking the design of 69 to eliminate exits and pavement depth, which will lead to excessive maintainence in the near future. Not to mention the divergence of funds to fix the infrastructure we already have built. Now we find there really is no local input going to be tolerated by the administration and INDOT. Tow the line or we will cut off your highway funding. The township system surely has its flaws, but it makes you think - what is the motivation for separating people from purely local government entities? It appears, whether true or not, that the governor's supporters had to be satisfied at any price. Well,at least we can take solace from all the jobs we'll garner from this development, along with benefits we got from Daylight Savings Time.

    • Poor Souls
      You guys are so misinformed it is scary. I-69 will repay Mitch's donors. The $3B+ going into this mess will never be realized by new revenue. Manufacturing jobs have plenty of interstate in the state to locate on. IEDC will have to fund a huge portion for companies to locate here and Monroe County will also have to provide tax breaks and incentives. Why do we continue to subsidize low wage jobs through old fashioned infrastructure and then further the subsidy with tax breaks to undercut other regional communities for these businesses? Bloomington is spot on in their dissent of this plow job by INDOT. Removing funding for the most viable transit system in the state is a sorry tactic and one worthy of elementary school playgrounds. All fiscal conservatives, tax abolitionists and clear headed Hoosiers should be standing up against pouring $3Billion into a meaningless project when there are many issues the state should address.
    • Charles
      If Bloomington doesn't want I-69, build it around them. I would rather not have to use my taxpayer money to subsidize their campus transportation. I think it should be cut regardless of I-69.
    • BEA?
      Having lived in CA. and currently living Bloomington IN, I don't see your comparison. Well maybe the 2.2 miles around the campus. Bloomington as whole and for that matter Monroe County has more similarity to Eastern KY or West Virginia.
      The funding and need for this road is simple. Private Industry growth i.e. (manufacturing) which the majority of the current population of Monroe County is equipped for, comes from better access and efficient shipping. Neither will be achieved with the current road system available for Industry. I would also like to put forth the the thought as to what this area will look in twenty years? Take look at these area's that have similiar travel restraints -Clive UT, Richland WS, Branwell SC, Andrews Cty, TX and see what industry they all have in common. HINT - instead of "Gods Country" more like Landfill Country.
    • Government Extortion
      It is difficult to see how cutting transportation funds in retaliation for not getting a deal involving I-69 might be considered EXTORTION or more correctly EXACTION. Both of these terms refer to criminal offenses, and I'm not sure depriving citizens of resouces to which otherwise entitled to achieve something the citizens do not want; is anything but extortion.
    • Blackmail
      CORRECTION: State Route 37 from Indianapolis is a fantastic 4 lane alternative for a bus route and already in place.
    • Blackmail
      I kinda agree with you, except Atate Route 37 from Indianapolis is a fantastic 4 lane alternative to a bus route already in place. Now for the Blackmail or scare tactic and threats. this shows how Politicians abuse their power and become arrogant. I do not ever again vote for anyone supposed to represent me in a gov. position once they lose thier values, ethics, and loyalty to the voters who put them in office. they have lost respect and perspective and have dishonored the citizens.
      • I-69 North of Bloomington
        What rock have you been hiding under. Maybe 4 years ago it was popular but with the economic status we are now faced with...this is a total waste of funds and not environmentally sound. We have not the funds State or Federal to maintain what we already have and our Bridge repair list is too long to mention. Indiana needs to understand it needs to pay only for what it can afford and not further burden its citizens. Thank you for hearing this side of the coin.
      • I69
        Put it to a referendum, your going to be in the booth anyway, right? Yes fore and Nay against. EZ
      • Where is the tea party?
        Where is the tea party, not to mention and fiscal conservatives on this Issue? $3 billion dollars for a new road project? The government doesn't have the money to build it or maintain it once built. This is yet another reminder of how misguided the so-called fiscal conservatives are. If Fox news or conservative politicians are not prompting a response, there is no response. Where are the rational, independent thinkers? This project is a representative of government waste at its best.
      • I-69
        As to I-69 being unpopular, it's a small vocal minority that is opposing the interstate. The vast majority of the people in Indiana want this interstate to happen. I don't blame IDOT for pushing Monroe county and Bloomington to include I-69 into it's plans. The county and city will suffer greatly by the loss of federal funds. When you consider that most state construction projects are funded with 80% of federal funds and 20% of local funds you realize how much money our federal government gives to these projects. That is a lot of money to lose and in fact over time it would add up to hundreds of millions of dollars lost. Those who are opposing the highway would be better off working with the federal government to get this highway built with the least environmental impact, the most interchanges and over passes put in place, upgrading of roads, ect.....
      • Funding?
        Why are us dollars used to fund the IU Campus Bus transit? I say cut them off regardless. Bloomington is nothing but the California of Indiana anyway. Send the whole county away - it wouldn't be missed.
        • Blackmail
          Approve of 1-69 or we will cut you off financially? That sounds a lot like strong-arm tactics and blackmail to me. How come the gov't gets to do that? I think this is all the more reason to oppose the I-69 project. This proves that the project is unpopular, since the DOT has to blackmail municipalities into backing it.

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