Monroe County alters ordinance that sparked I-69 suit

Monroe County officials hoping to end a state agency's lawsuit have rolled back provisions in an ordinance limiting how much noise crews building the Interstate 69 extension can make at night.

Night construction began this spring along a 27-mile section near Bloomington of the highway that, when complete, will run 142 miles between Evansville and Indianapolis.

In June, the commissioners revised the southern Indiana county's noise ordinance in response to residents' complaints about late-night construction noise around the I-69 site, limiting noise between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. In response, the Indiana Department of Transportation sued the county, contending the commissioners had no authority to limit construction of the highway extension. A Marion County judge blocked the ordinance in July.

County attorney Dave Schilling said the county did not have the resources to continue fighting the lawsuit, which was why the ordinance was being changed, The Herald-Times reported. The county commissioners approved three amendments Friday to exempt federal and state agencies and safety signals, and to clarify the criteria for being eligible for a waiver.

Schilling said the county hopes to file a joint motion with INDOT to dismiss the case.

"I regret that we have to redo this, and I hope … that we have some accommodations from INDOT," Commissioner Iris Kiesling said.

INDOT spokesman Will Wingfield said the agency's attorney attended the meeting and that INDOT hopes "to resolve the lawsuit in a timely manner." He did not say whether the department would be filing a motion to dismiss the lawsuit.

Commissioner Patrick Stoffers said he hopes the amendments to the ordinance persuade INDOT to drop the suit and "we can move forward together."

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