Interstate 69 extension under budget, set to open

The first three sections of the new Interstate 69 extension will officially open in southwest Indiana on Nov. 19, Gov. Mitch Daniels and the Indiana Department of Transportation announced Friday.

The opening will cover a 67-mile stretch connecting communities from just northeast of Evansville at Interstate 64 to the U.S. 231 interchange near the Crane Naval Surface Warfare Center.

The estimated cost of the first three sections is $600 million, about $80 million under budget, Daniels said in a prepared statement.

The road ultimately will stretch from Evansville to Indianapolis through Bloomington. The highway to Bloomington is expected to open to traffic by the end of 2014.

Preliminary planning for Section 5, a 21-mile section that will follow Indiana 37 through Bloomington to just south of Martinsville, is proceeding, with the draft environmental impact statement due by the end of the year, state officials said. The section is expected to cost between $500 million and $545 million, about $100 million more than estimates from a year ago.

“Many people said this interstate expansion wouldn’t happen in their lifetime, but it’s now poised to open and the result will be greater economic opportunity, faster and safer travel, improved connectivity, easier access for leisure travel and more,” Daniels said.

Most of the I-69 extension is funded by money from the state’s decision to lease the Indiana Toll Road for 75 years to a private Spanish-Australian consortium for $3.8 billion in 2006.

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