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Environomental group worries Evansville firm

September 18, 2007

Bernardin Lochmueller & Associates Inc., the Evansville civil engineering firm that's leading consulting work on the extension of Interstate 69, has warned other consulting firms and local police that the environmental group Earth First is ramping up its opposition to the road project, according to the Evansville Courier & Press.

Earth First members raided engineering offices in three southwestern Indiana towns in early July to "evict" workers and moved maps and other office materials to curbs, the organization's anonymous Web site said. Environmental organizations have opposed extending the interstate from Indianapolis to Evansville.

An Earth First meeting last weekend at an undisclosed location in the southwestern corner of the state prompted Bernardin Lochmueller to put itself on "high alert" and add security personnel to its Evansville headquarters yesterday. Also, Gibson County sheriff's deputies stepped up patrols.

In the 1990s, Earth First gained notoriety for sitting in trees and other exploits to protest logging.

In May, IBJ reported that Bernardin Lochmueller planned to add 20 employees to the 22 already at its Indianapolis office at 6125 S. East St. The firm also has offices in West Lafayette and Maryville, Ill.

Chief executive Mike Hinton said the main reason for the Indianapolis expansion was to be close to the Indiana Department of Transportation as it gears up for a decade of infrastructure work-funded by last year's $3.8 billion lease of the Indiana Toll Road.

Indianapolis also is the most dynamic market in the state and is more centrally located than Evansville, Hinton said.

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