Legislation that would remove a restriction on where the final leg of the Interstate 69 extension can be built would give planners more options as they decide the route's last segment, a state lawmaker says.
State Rep. John Price is sponsoring a bill that would revise a 2006 law that bans the I-69 extension from passing through southern Marion County's Perry Township.
The Greenwood Republican said his proposal wouldn't require the final stretch of the half-built, 142-mile highway that's slated to eventually run from Evansville to Indianapolis to traverse Perry Township. Instead, he said he simply wants to give Indiana Department of Transportation officials more flexibility by allowing them to consider the option of running I-69's final miles along the State Road 37 corridor.
"It's my intention that this lets the pros at INDOT figure out what the best route is without closing off choices," Price told The Indianapolis Star.
Republican Sen. Patricia Miller of Indianapolis pushed the 2006 provision that bars I-69 from passing through the township on the city's south side amid concerns that doing so would harm the heavily developed area.
"I felt it would uproot people in populated areas from their businesses and homes," Miller said. "And it would be costly to the state (in compensation) and lost real estate taxes."
Perry Township residents, civic leaders and business owners have long contended that routing I-69 through the township would harm business along State Road 37, devalue land and divide the community geographically.
"You see it all the time where highways go in (it) separates a community geographically because access from one side to the other is limited," said William Boyd, treasurer of the Southwest Perry Civic Association.
A nearly 70-mile section of the I-69 extension opened about two years ago between Evansville and Crane, southwest of Bloomington. Work is currently underway on a section that will run from the Bloomington area to Martinsville.
INDOT spokesman Will Wingfield said the agency recently began an environmental study that will include a new analysis of the options for the final segment that will run between Martinsville and Indianapolis. He said INDOT has no preferred route for that stretch and has not secured construction funds for whichever path is chosen.