Opponents of Indiana's nearly $3 billion Interstate 69 extension are urging a southern Indiana planning board to keep the highway out of its transportation plan despite the state's warning that doing so could endanger federal funding for local projects.
Indiana's 142-mile extension of Interstate 69 between Indianapolis and Evansville will siphon hundreds of millions of dollars away from other road and bridge projects in coming years, according to a report from an environmental group.
Citizens for Appropriate Rural Roads and the I-69 Accountability Project said the road expansion would violate federal environmental laws.
State highway officials say they hope to begin building a key section of Interstate 69 to Bloomington by the end of 2011 after releasing the final environmental impact statement for the stretch.
Opponents say bridges along the new, 142-mile highway extension would worsen flooding in southwestern Indiana.
Truck-only toll lanes along Interstate 70 are among potential projects that could result from a controversial bill that would allow the governor to authorize toll roads without an OK from the Legislature.
State highway officials have awarded a LaPorte company a $98.8 million contract to build a nine-mile section of Indiana's planned Interstate 69 extension through Daviess County.
Indiana Department of Transportation spokeswoman Cher Goodwin says that with the new contract, the state has so far awarded eight contracts for building about 45 miles of the new $3 billion, 142-mile highway between Indianapolis and Evansville.
Environmentalists not impressed, say state is doing the minimum to comply with federal law.
The Indiana Department of Transportation says the Federal Highway Administration has extended the comment period affecting Section 4 of the project for 30 days until Oct. 28.
So far, the state has spent $20.3 million to buy 209 parcels. Another $69.7 million is budgeted for purchases through June
Some opponents of the Interstate 69 extension says it’s not too late to kill the project even
though concrete has been poured for two miles in southern Indiana, and another 60 miles or so is under construction or in
an engineering phase.
Detractors of new-terrain route say cost cuts undermine economic development premise for extending the interstate.