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Indiana sues county over I-69 noise ordinance

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The Indiana Department of Transportation is suing the commissioners of a southern Indiana county, saying they have no authority to limit construction of the Interstate 69 extension near Bloomington with an ordinance that restricts overnight noise.

The lawsuit filed in Marion Superior Court in Indianapolis says the Monroe County ordinance limiting noise between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. is hindering the project that's behind schedule and where some work goes on overnight to catch up.

Contractors already are bound by noise restrictions under their contracts, INDOT spokesman Will Wingfield told The Indianapolis Star. The ordinance approved June 20 has caused delays and it's difficult to say when new stretches of the freeway near Bloomington might open to traffic, he said.

"Certainly, we won't be able to put out an updated estimate until this matter is resolved," Wingfield said.

The agency's complaint filed Friday says "at least one INDOT contractor has threatened to alter its work schedule and cease work during certain hours in reaction to ... the ordinance."

INDOT alleges the ordinance violates Indiana's Home Rule Act, which prevents a county from imposing burdens on the agency or regulating matters that fall in INDOT's purview. INDOT is asking for a temporary restraining order barring the ordinance. A hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.

A message seeking comment was left for Monroe County Attorney Dave Schilling.

Contractors currently are working on the fourth section of the extension that eventually will link Indianapolis and Evansville. The section stretches from Greene County to Bloomington and goes near the homes of some of the project's most strident opponents.

Thomas Tokarski, who has helped file legal challenges to stop the entire I-69 extension, said he and others often called the sheriff to complain about the nighttime noise before the ordinance went into effect. He said INDOT's request for a restraining order was another example of INDOT bullying him and his neighbors.

"It's simply not acceptable," he said. "It's a complete lack of consideration for the lives of people who live out here. You would not believe the noise that goes on at night. All night long when they're working like that. You cannot sleep."

Under the ordinance, violators can be fined up to $2,500 for a first offense or up to $7,500 for additional violations.

INDOT has butted heads with Monroe County officials previously over the extension. The Bloomington/Monroe County Metropolitan Planning Organization approved a local transportation plan in 2012 that omitted 1.75 miles of the project, threatening federal funding, before later narrowly approving its addition to the local plan.

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  • Hoosier hicks!
    Typical backward hillbilly tactics by the stooges who can handle being dragged into the 21st Century. Indot should sue for damages and make the taxpayers of Monroe County pay dearly for their stupidity. I-69 is God's gift to the people of SW Indiana. And despite the senseless rantings coming out of Bloomtown.,...this Interstate will be completed. Thank God. Tokarski...Andy (the Don) Knotts,etc. The best thing about you impotent little twits is that you're all elgible to die of old age with the turning of each day.
  • Easy for you to rip on Monroe County
    It is sad to see the rude comments about Monroe county and this issue. I lived in Indy for 16 years and now live in Monroe county, off of Tap Road, right by alot of the I-69 work. There is alot of noise and I can sympathize with those that are getting the brunt of it. I don't think it is unreasonable to allow people to get sleep at night. If they were doing a project in Indy in your backyard and you couldn't sleep for days or weeks, you would would be complaining as well. I don't know the background of Bloomington's obstruction of previous projects, but this comes down to quality of life. Everyone needs to quit being so rude!
  • Oh please!
    I agree. Shut up already! This issue has been resolved long ago. Quit wining like the sore losers you are. I for one cannot wait to go sailing right by Bloomington without having to even slow down. Delays cause major price increases in construction. Oh by the way, Indiano? Pence and his so called mafia have nothing to do with this decision. This was approved by your other favorite Governor, My Man Mitch. Purdue is finally being run by someone with a business acumen so watch it soar even higher now that he is in charge. Academia be damned.
  • Go Monroe
    Yeah, Go Monroe! Just go, from the face of the earth. Bulldoze the entire socialist town. Yep, sorry obstructionists, the state agency trumps petty "laws" like this every time! I'm surprised that they did not pass a law barring construction from 6 AM to 10 PM for some, self serving reason. Go Monroe, get lost!
  • Sounds reasonable except for B-town's history
    Legalities aside, it sounds reasonable for a community to limit the amount of construction noise from 10pm to 6am. However, given Bloomington/Monroe County's history of obstructionism toward this project, it's hard to believe that this isn't just more uncalled for obstructionism. In this case, the burden of proof should be on Bloomington to show that this is needed and isn't more obstructionism.
  • hmm
    I'm sure some of these houses that are complaining are within an ear shot of existing 37 too, since some of it is being reused. Where was their restrictive ordinance when they were reconstructing 37 at all hours of the night. They knew what they would be near when they bought the house; sound of a US highway and all that comes with it. INDOT is not impacted by local ordinances. I'm a big fan of Bloomington, but this is them just delaying the project even more. It's going to happen. Let them do the overnight work so they can be away from the properties quicker, sooner they can work on it, sooner they'll be gone. They aren't going to stop I69 now!. I'd also like bloomington to stop interfering with the project and quit delaying it, causing cost overruns of which WE ALL have to pay for anyway.
  • Behind Schedule?
    Who cares if it's behind schedule and this delays the portion through Monroe County. Residents have a right to be able to sleep. People have lived their entire lives without this stretch of I-69, they can certainly live through any delay due to decreased work between a very reasonable 10pm-6am. Really, what will a delay cause (aside from peace and quiet)?
  • Hmm, INDOT is right
    INDOT is exempt from local ordinances. Period, end of story.
  • Go Monroe
    Apparently the Pance Gestapo thinks people have no rights. Go Bloomingtom

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