INDOT chooses Indiana 37 for final leg of I-69 extension

Indiana highway officials have chosen the Indiana 37 corridor for the final leg of the Interstate 69 extension.

Indiana Department of Transportation officials announced the preferred route Tuesday afternoon, saying "the route following State Road 37 between Martinsville and Indianapolis best meets the I-69 performance measures while minimizing cost and impacts to the human and natural environment."

City-County Council member Jason Holliday, who opposed that route, told The Indianapolis Star that he's "disappointed but not surprised" by the decision.

Five proposed routes had been under consideration for the final leg of the Evansville-to-Indianapolis I-69 extension.

Tuesday's decision establishes the Indiana 37 corridor for that segment, but the exact route still must be designed.

A state report said nearly 280 residences and 96 businesses between Martinsville and Indianapolis would need to be relocated if Indiana 37 was chosen.

“Building I-69 from Martinsville to Indianapolis using State Road 37 is the logical choice,” INDOT Commissioner Hendrickson said in written remarks. “This route offers the strongest opportunities for economic growth, most significant safety improvements, and greatest reduction in congestion of all route alternatives evaluated. After years of study and input from thousands of Hoosiers, INDOT has determined that the State Road 37 option produces the best return on investment for Indiana taxpayers.”

INDOT said analysis found that the State Road 37 route would:

— Avoid an estimated 1,379 crashes each year;

— Reduce travel times from Martinsville to downtown Indianapolis by 11 minutes:

—Reduce travel times from Martinsville to I-69 in northeast Indianapolis by 13 minutes;

— Increases wages in the four-county study area by a total of $1.7 billion over 20 years;

— Increases gross domestic product in the four-county study area by $2.4 billion over 20 years.

Indiana Chamber of Commerce President Kevin Brinegar said the chamber supports using Indiana 37 and considers it "the best alternative" for completing the I-69 extension.

"The corridor requires far less new construction than the alternatives, impacts the fewest homeowners and has the most consensus among all interested parties," he said in a statement.

The 142-mile interstate's first three sections spanning 67 miles opened in 2012 between Evansville and Crane. A 27-mile segment opened in December between Crane and Bloomington and construction continues on upgrading the current four-lane Indiana 37 from Bloomington to Martinsville.

The total cost of the I-69 extension is estimated at $3 billion, but the cost of the final leg has not been determined.

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