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Next I-69 section to cost less than expected

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A section of the Interstate 69 extension from just south of Bloomington to Martinsville is moving forward at a lower cost after Indiana received approval to use federal funds for the stretch, a state highway spokesman said Monday.

The Federal Highway Administration approval granted on Friday will allow funds from the federal agency to be used to complete the design and acquire land for the approximately 21-mile Section 5, Indiana Department of Transportation spokesman Will Wingfield said.

State officials say revised plans for a section mean fewer homes and businesses would be torn down. And the cost is at least $100 million less than an estimate released last year. The new estimate of $394 million released Monday is within several million of previous projections.

The section will upgrade the current Indiana 37 — a four-lane, divided highway — to interstate standards. Land must be acquired for the seven interchanges and five overpasses in the section, Wingfield said.

The new plan cuts the number of homes being bought from 150 down to 119. The number of businesses affected will go from 32 down to 17.

Under an initiative announced by Gov. Mike Pence in May, a team of contractors selected to design and build the upgrade will sign a public-private deal under which it will arrange its own financing. Indiana would make payments for 35 years after its completion as the team maintains and operates the stretch. It will not be a toll road.

INDOT expects to select the winning team from among four candidates next February, with construction beginning months later, Wingfield said.

The contractors for the extension's first 94 miles from Evansville to south of Bloomington received state funding for their work.

The first three sections opened for traffic in November. Construction is continuing on the 27-mile Section 4 between Crane and Bloomington, which is expected to open to traffic in phases during late 2014 and early 2015.

When complete, the extension will stretch 142 miles from Evansville to Indianapolis.

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  • Yay
    This is a good start. However, there are still parts of the state that are not paved.
  • Slot car track
    Whiteout, I too enjoyed my first ride on the new terrain a few weeks ago, along with the other 25 vehicles I saw. Unfortunately my exit at Washington was closed, and I had to drive an extra 25 miles to get off. I'm sorry hoosier92, but much of the traffic that was projected up the road from MX will now be coming in containers from the west coast, as many of the jobs there from the early 90's moved to Asia. Beefing up I-70 would seem to be the more pressing issue. And that's a pretty good thing, because apparently KY is balking at building the new OH river bridge, other states are foot-dragging on their sections, and IN doesn't think much of maintaining the roads we have now (IN 37 being exhibit A).
  • mass transit
    With the extra money that is being saved, perhaps we can add mass transit alongside. Hyperloop anybody? It's estimated at 10% of the cost in CA, perhaps those same cost dynamics can apply here. Indy to E'ville in 20 minutes all in the comfort of a bank tube.
  • Whole Project
    You have to remember that this is just a small part of the overall project. This is an interstate that will go from Canada to Mexico. So while we talk about rail and the efficiencies, this road will move tons of product north/south in this country. Let's not lose sight of the entire project not just our little section here in Indiana.
  • Not Actually Complaining
    RC, I don’t know that Jon is necessarily complaining. I think it’s more about what is the most effective, practical use of these transportation dollars. A new road will provide a way to transport goods and people between the state capital and one of the state’s largest communities. But, goods could go by traditional rail, as some already do (which may require some upgrades to the current rail system). People moving via light rail or other mass transit would be, I imagine, much safer, quicker, less tiring for the driver, better for the environment (southern Indiana is BEAUTIFUL) and much more energy efficient than travelling by car. This article says a 21-mile section of this 142-mile road will cost $394 million. How much mass transit could we get for the same money? What are the maintenance/operating costs of each? Which is really the better option? Did anyone think about these things? I think that’s Jon’s point. It's not being negative. It's being a good steward of public funds.
  • 23 years later!
    ...and it's finally here! back in '90 I had just moved to Indy and did a college paper about a freeway from Indy to E'ville. I recall going to the Statehouse and acquired a copy of a proposal cost/benefit document...I believe Sen. Boots was the sponsor. The doc recommended to proceed with construction. Again, this was 1990-ish. So Sunday, I found myself driving up from Eville for the first time on the new freeway in an ear-to-ear grin. Shaved 1/2 hour from the trip just to the current exit, about 1/3 of the way. So when it is complete, I am sure it will shave at least another 1/2 hour from the total travel time (and also = less fuel, safer road, and improved/additional defense infrastructure if needed).
  • RE: $$$
    ALWAYS.... someone complaining. There's no pleasing you people. Always gotta be negative.
  • $$$$
    It seems like we have all the money in the world for road construction but never any money for mass transit.

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