Stretch of I-69 extension set to start next year

State officials are expecting construction to start next year on another phase of the Interstate 69 extension through southern Indiana.

The state highway department plans to select a contractor in March for work on a 21-mile section of the highway that will generally follow the current Indiana 37 corridor from south of Bloomington to the southern edge of Martinsville, The Herald-Times reported (http://bit.ly/JEAAnh ).

Much of the work will involve building interchanges and overpasses as the route is transformed to interstate standards, said Will Wingfield, a spokesman for the Indiana Department of Transportation.

The work will cost an estimated $394 million and should be completed by the end of 2016. Wingfield said a date for the start of construction hasn't been set.

"We set the parameters and it's up to the contractors to determine the schedule," he said.

A 67-mile stretch of I-69 opened last year from near Evansville at I-64 to near the Crane Naval Surface Warfare Center southwest of Bloomington. Construction is underway on a 27-mile section between Bloomington and Crane that could open in late 2014.

The state highway department is still buying land for the Bloomington-to-Martinsville section, and the number of properties involved is still evolving. Right now, 119 residences and 17 businesses are marked in the path of the 327 acres that the state is acquiring.

"The idea is to minimize that even further," Wingfield said.

Once the state agency owns the land, the tree clearing will begin.

"That's some of the first work people who drive [Indiana] 37 will see," Wingfield said.

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