Cutting corners on the I-69 extension

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Gov. Mitch Daniels is raising eyebrows in the Evansville area for ramrodding a section of the Interstate 69 extension ahead
of schedule by a whopping three years.

The 68-mile stretch from Evansville to the Naval Surface Warfare Center
at Crane now is expected to be built by 2012. In other words, nearly half the distance to Indianapolis would be completed
by Daniels’ final year in office.

The push is so preliminary that the Department of Transportation hasn’t
started the drawings for parts of the Evansville-to-Crane leg, let alone acquired the land or permits. Still, the department’s
deputy commissioner for major programs, Samuel Sarvis, told Evansville Courier & Press editors this month that the target
can be met.

And the project will be done in typical Daniels fashion, the lowest cost possible. That means using
the same firm to design and build the road, which will allow construction to begin when the designs aren’t so much as

Pavement will be thin at first because planners anticipate few trucks until the entire road is finished
to Indianapolis. More pavement can be added later. The decision between concrete and asphalt also will be heavily influenced
by cost.

How do you feel about the plans? Many people in southwestern reaches of the state are grateful the long-discussed
project is finally moving ahead. But will future taxpayers wish the state spent more money up front?

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