Knox County, Vincennes officials backing I-69 route No. 2
If you've followed the I-69 debate very close at all, you know two of the five alternative routes announced by the Indiana Department of Transportation late last year is good news for Greene County.
No, make that great news.
Both basically cut the county in half, bringing with it easier transportation for the private sector and businesses looking to possibly locate in this area.
Of course, if you don't believe I-69 will do a thing to help bring jobs to the area, the news didn't mean much other than the loss of some farm land.
Area Chambers of Commerce have shown their support for alternative routes 2 and 4, and are encouraging the general public to do the same. Tammy Martin, executive director of the Linton-Stockton Chamber of Commerce, has written about the subject many times in her weekly Area Business Notes column.
Folks in Knox County, particularly Vincennes, have thrown their support to alternative route 2. Why? Because it makes the most sense for Vincennes and Knox County.
"Primarily we feel like it would benefit all of southwestern Indiana," Chris Kinnett, president and CEO of the Knox County Development Corporation, told The Daily Citizen on Monday afternoon.
"And it obviously would be a benefit to Knox County. It takes a good bit of U.S. 41 and State Road 67, and they have already been a key component (in travel) from Indianapolis to southwest Indiana and on to Evansville. From my standpoint, it would be good from an economic development standpoint."
Kinnett pointed out the highway would benefit the Toyota plant near Princeton. He added that there's 11,000 trucks that cross the border from the U.S. to Mexico each day, and roughly 15 percent of Indiana's exports go to Mexico.
"Of that 15 percent, 48 percent is vehicles and heavy machinery," Kinnett noted.
The I-69 project will connect that interstate from northeast Indianapolis to Evansville. Eventually, the interstate will continue on to Mexico.
For now, though, the hot topic is where the Indy-to-Evansville connection will go. Five final routes have been announced, and three pass through Greene County.
The Knox County Development Corporation, along with the Vincennes City Council, Knox County Commissioners, Knox County Council, and the Knox County Chamber of Commerce have all passed resolutions supporting alternative route No. 2.
"We feel like this is a more achievable route at this time, one that will actually be a greater benefit for all of Knox County," Kinnett said.
J. Bryan Nicol, INDOT commissioner, was in Vincennes on Friday to speak at a meeting of the Knox County Development Corporation.
"It went very well," Kinnett said of the meeting. "We had a little over 100 people there. It was a small room, and a tight time frame to put it together, but we had a very respective crowd.
"I think we were very well received."
Kinnett, Vincennes, and Knox County officials have created an industrial park just south of Vincennes along U.S. 41, and received word recently that a $1.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce will help fund a water extension project to the industrial site.
"We are out there helping ourselves," Kinnett noted.
Now it's time for Greene County to do the same.