State surveys businesses to limit impact of I-69 extension near Indy

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Now that the Indiana Department of Transportation has selected the route for I-69 between Indianapolis and Martinsville, the department has begun laying the groundwork for the design and construction and asking nearby businesses to weigh in.

In March, INDOT announced that it would rebuild S.R. 37 between Indianapolis and Martinsville, using that 26-mile stretch of highway as part of its I-69 extension between Indianapolis and Evansville.

Construction on this part of the project hasn’t yet started. In fact, INDOT hasn’t even developed a construction timeline for this stretch, which is known as Section 6.

But INDOT is now gathering information that will help it refine I-69’s design and exact route in this area.

The department is now conducting a survey of businesses near Section 6, gathering information on how they may be impacted by the interstate both during and after its construction.

INDOT is soliciting online survey responses from 96 businesses that are directly along S.R. 37, as well as those located within one mile east or west of that road.

The survey asks things like how many employees work at the business, its hours of operation, future expansion plans and which direction employees, customers and deliveries are coming from.

“The main point of this survey is to basically find out the access for these businesses,” said INDOT spokesman LaMar Holliday.

Survey responses are due by July 29.

The information will help INDOT as it moves forward with Section 6 design work, Holliday said.

Interstate design options could include retaining walls, shifting the route to the east or west, taking the interstate above or below local roads and selecting different ramp locations.

“The main goal is to minimize those (property) impacts as much as possible,” Holliday said.

In another type of information gathering, INDOT workers have begun field work to collect information on wetlands and streams along the Section 6 corridor. Field work began this week and will continue through the summer.

This information will be part of an environmental impact study that INDOT must send to the Federal Highway Administration. Holliday said INDOT expects to submit this study to the federal government next year, with a decision expected back from the feds in early 2018.

Design work and property acquisition won’t begin in earnest until after the Federal Highway Administration signs off on the environmental impact study.

The extension of I-69 between Indianapolis and Evansville has been years in the making.

The first piece of the project, a 13-mile stretch linking Evansville with Oakland City, opened in 2009.

Work progressed north from there, and the most recent section completed—27 miles from the Crane Naval Surface Warfare Center to Bloomington—opened to traffic in December 2015.

Crews are currently working on Phase 5, which follows S.R. 37 between Bloomington and Martinsville. That stretch of the project is set to open later this year.

Total cost of the Evansville-to-Indianapolis project is estimated at $3 billion.

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