New Interstate 69 shows poor judgment

May 15, 2010

Two of the principal obligations of government are that it should be accountable to its citizens, and that it should operate at a reasonable level of efficiency. In the case of the proposed Interstate 69 highway, many farmers, business owners and other residents along the proposed route believe that state government is meeting neither of these responsibilities.

My brother and I own several farms in the path of I-69. Of the 800 acres we own, three farms will be impacted in Pike and Gibson counties. It’s a distinct possibility that up to 520 acres we’ve farmed for generations will be taken for the highway. Not only will thousands of acres of farms like ours be condemned by the state, but communities will be divided.

In our recovering economy, small businesses are key drivers for growth. Consider how businesses along the proposed I-69 will be affected. In Martinsville, Towne View Auto Clinic, a locally owned auto repair shop, will likely be forced to move or close because of an interchange. Martinsville Golf Club, a family-owned public golf course, could close because of I-69’s restricted access. Other businesses along State Road 37 worry about their businesses. Indiana Hardwood Mills near State Road 37 will face restricted access and a loss of Indiana’s timber resource due to the thousands of acres of forest that I-69 will destroy.

Sometimes these sacrifices are considered justified for the sake of the public good, but does this 142-mile interstate highway really qualify as a public good, given its high cost in public dollars, the loss of Hoosiers’ homes, farms and businesses, and a degraded environment?

How could the state be acting for the public good when it begins construction on a highway expected to cost over $3 billion without knowing where 75 percent of the money will come from? At the same time, city streets and county roads remain in disrepair. Thousands of bridges are in dismal condition.

Others have noticed. The conservative Reason Foundation’s latest “Annual Highway Report” dropped Indiana from 15th to 31st in its state-by-state ranking of highway system efficiency, because of a sharp decline in urban interstate condition and an increase in spending per mile.

Allen R. Rumble
Investment adviser representativeTotal Financial Group Inc

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