I-69 hearing another step forward

Friday, March 6, 2009

The Indiana Department of Transportation will conduct a public hearing later this month on a section of Interstate 69 project that travels through the southern part of Greene County.

It will still be years before anyone can drive on new roadway, but planners say the upcoming meeting is another step in the process leading to the final design phase.

The meeting has been set from 5-9 p.m. on Tuesday, March 26 at North Daviess Elementary School gymnasium, located on State Road 58, east of Elnora.

The session will include an informal open house from 5-6:30 p.m. where INDOT officials will be available to answer questions and various maps showing the section of the project will be available for inspection.

An informational presentation is slated for 6:30 p.m.

Map courtesy of the Indiana Department of Transportation

Following the presentation, there will be a period open to receive both written and verbal comments about the project.

One of the key purposes of the meeting will be to gather public comments on the draft environmental impact statement for the Tier 2, Section 3 study that involves the portion of the interstate from U.S. 50 -- east of Washington to U.S. 231 just north of the Crane NSWC, near Scotland in Greene County.

The section is approximately 26 miles in length.

Comments at the public hearing will be limited to two minutes for each individual to allow for many different people to express their views.

All written comments must be received by INDOT officials not later than June 8.

A series of alternatives has been analyzed for environmental, social, economic, and engineering concerns. The highway is a freeway facility with interchanges providing the only access, according to an Indiana Department of Transportation legal notice.

David Goffinet, with project manager Bernardin, Lochmueller & Associates, Inc. of Evansville, said the upcoming hearing is another key step in the overall planning process.

He stressed that no firm dates have been established for the start of construction on Section 3, which he said has not yet progressed to the final design phase.

"This (hearing) is one last chance to have a say," Goffinet told the Greene County Daily World.

Goffinet doesn't expect the final route to have a great bit of deviation from the previous announced route through Greene County, but did say that comments received at the hearing could have a bearing on making slight route moves within the approved 2,000 feet corridor.

The corridor was approved on March 24, 2004 when the Federal Highway Administration issued a Record of Decision (ROD) for the project between Evansville and Indianapolis.

The head of INDOT said the environmental impact statements have been several years in the making and the series of hearings along the route are designed to glean public input and will help to move the project forward.

"These studies have taken four years to prepare," said Karl Browning, commissioner for INDOT, "They represent the next significant step for one of the high priority transportation projects of Gov. Mitch Daniels' administration. I-69 will bring jobs and economic development to the southwestern part of the state, and it would not have been possible without funding through the Major Moves program."

The I-69 project has been in the planning stages for years.

Decades after the Evansville-to-Indianapolis highway first was discussed and 17 years after serious planning began, ground was broken last July on the initial segment of the first section of I-69.

That segment is short measuring less than two miles long -- between the existing Interstate 64 and State Road 68.

But with funding available it might even be possible for motorists to drive on that piece of I-69 by late fall 2009, transportation officials said.

By 2011, the rest of the interstate's first section -- stretching 13 miles from Evansville to Oakland City, Ind. -- is to be under construction, according to a published report in the Evansville Courier & Press.

The two sections through Greene County will follow and will likely be constructed concurrently, Goffinet told the Greene County Daily World.

INDOT plans call for building the six sections of the interstate sequentially, south to north, until I-69 links with Interstate 465 at Indianapolis, a decade or more from now. The completion date of the entire $2 billion project is not known.

I-69 now runs from Michigan through Fort Wayne to Indianapolis. Construction is intended eventually to complete the missing link of the interstate system that long has left the southern part of state from Indianapolis to Evansville cut off from a larger corridor that will someday connect Canada to Mexico.

The sector through Indiana will be funded through a mix of federal and state dollars, as well as proceeds from the lease of the Indiana Toll Road.

Gov. Mitch Daniels has said $700 million has been earmarked from the Major Moves Construction Program to fund I-69 construction from Evansville to just north of Crane Naval Surface Warfare Center.

No public hearing has been scheduled for the environmental impact statement for Section 4 -- which runs from U.S. 231 near Scotland in Greene County to near Bloomington.

That section as well as Sections 5 and 6 -- north of Bloomington to Indianapolis will be constructed after 2015.

Project maps can be reviewed and public comments submitted online by going to the official website for the project --http://www.i69indyevn.org.

The section project office is located at 60 North Commercial Park Drive (former Daviess Co. REMC Building) in Washington.

The office can be reached by phone at 812-257-0083

Office hours are Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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  • Does anyone really believe the state is open for changes to their plans?!

    -- Posted by Forrest on Fri, Mar 6, 2009, at 11:16 PM
  • The NAFTA highway is not needed, but Mitch and his cronies are pushing for it anyway.

    -- Posted by greenecounty21 on Sat, Mar 7, 2009, at 5:46 AM
  • There won't be any significant changes. The INDOT preferred route hasn't changed since I first saw the plans almost 20 years ago. The most you will see are minor realignments to avoid cemeteries and environmentally sensitive areas - and these are based solely on a cost/benefit ratio.

    Public information meetings are required by law and that is the only reason that they are being held.

    -- Posted by Possum on Sat, Mar 7, 2009, at 9:39 AM
  • There is much to digest in the purported study that was released, but a few things are quite evident. What INDOT wants to put pavement down so that they can then say "we must finish it". The current plan is for an asphalt roadway in lieu of the concrete in the first plan. A number of intersections are not going to be built right now. These intersections will be built at a later date, or so INDOT says. The intersection at 231 will not be constructed, only ''t'd' into it.

    INDOT is playing tricks with it's numbers also. The cost figures result in close $1.5 Billion just to reach 231 and they still are saying it will only cost $2 Billion total? The groups opposing I-69 have had it right all along, that I-69 will cost over $4 Billion if it is ever completed. Where will the money come from folks?

    US41/I70 is the only solution that makes sense from every perspective. Economic, social impact, and environmentally. We sure don't need another road to Mexico. We all know this only leads to more jobs going south, figuratively and literally.

    I hope everyone comes out to this meeting and let INDOT hear us loud and clear, again NO I-69!

    -- Posted by family farms on Sat, Mar 7, 2009, at 7:57 PM
  • I don't see why everyone is so up in arms about this project. On one hand I hear complaining about there being no jobs in this area, and then some of those same people don't want the infastructure that can bring it. I know there are no guarantees that I69 will bring jobs, but there IS a guarantee that without it, there won't be any of the high paying jobs everyone wants. Make up your mind people. And would everyone please get off the NAFTA thing! We screwed that up years ago when we let our leaders vote it in. Ross Perot was the only one talking any sense about it, and we didn't listen to him. Our American companies don't need roads to take their plants overseas. They have done a pretty good job doing it without I-69. If you want it to change, get our government to quit giving them tax breaks.

    -- Posted by POP on Mon, Mar 9, 2009, at 7:16 AM
  • "there IS a guarantee that without it, there won't be any of the high paying jobs everyone wants."

    POP, I challenge you to tell us of one situation where construction of a new interstate highway resulted in enough high paying jobs to make investing $2 billion+ a cost-effective way to use tax dollars.

    -- Posted by circle on Mon, Mar 9, 2009, at 10:44 AM
  • Circle--all you have to do is look around and see that every place that offers any type of decent wage paying jobs has this type of infastructure in close proximity. There will be no major employers consider this area without having close access to it. Having said that, you should also paste the line in my post that said there was no guarantee of it bringing it in. I would however rather take my chances with it.Are you one of those people griping about us not having any jobs around here too?

    Listen, I am more upset about the fact that my tax dollars, and those of my kids and grandkids not even born yet, are going to a stimulus package that is bailing out people who abused the systems in place. At least with I-69 I might get to use it.

    -- Posted by POP on Mon, Mar 9, 2009, at 11:04 AM
  • "all you have to do is look around and see that every place that offers any type of decent wage paying jobs has this type of infastructure in close proximity."

    So we should make this $2 billion+ investment because "it looks like" good jobs are near highways?

    "All you have to do" is take a look at the workings of the road construction lobby and you'll get a much more well-informed explanation of why our governor and his predecessors have been fleecing you into believing that we need this in order to get jobs.

    -- Posted by circle on Mon, Mar 9, 2009, at 1:24 PM
  • Circle, your turn. You still didn't answer my question from my previous post. Look back I am sure you will find it. Let me say this first, I haven't made my mind up about the I 69 project yet. I started posting because GC21 wanted to blame NAFTA on it,which is comical. I mean pretty soon it will be the cause of global warming and the lack of world peace. This community needs to decide what it wants to be, we are either always going to be a rural community with no jobs or we are going to try and develop the area so we can try to attract them. Since you have all the answers Circle, which one are you? The one that complains about not having any jobs while they are simultaneously saying they don't want development? Or the one that just wants to stay status quo? IF it's the first one, then maybe you can enlighten me on your plans to bring good paying jobs to our area.

    -- Posted by POP on Mon, Mar 9, 2009, at 4:33 PM
  • "So we should make this $2 billion+ investment because "it looks like" good jobs are near highways?"

    Show me a place that has good jobs that isn't in close proximity to a major highway.

    -- Posted by POP on Mon, Mar 9, 2009, at 4:35 PM
  • You want me to answer this: "Are you one of those people griping about us not having any jobs around here too?" No, I am not one of those people.

    I want development that doesn't rely on tearing up land. We have done enough of that. Look at satellite images of our country and check out the deforestation. Using trucks is an outmoded method of moving goods. The true cost of gasoline is somewhere between 6 and 12 dollars per gallon - if you don't believe me, look it up. And we can't keep emitting the amount of carbon we do now by relying on trucking. That is very likely causing global warming, according to the vast majority of atmospheric scientists. Global warming's effects are not something I want to subject God's creation and future generations to, though it might be too late.

    Why did small communities like Hobbieville and Owensburg thrive years ago? Or for that matter, Bloomfield and Linton? What did we do to make that way of life untenable? Why have we made it so that we need to give up land and lifestyle to make room for more trucks? Accepting the convention that we need more highways - that the I70-US41 route (way cheaper) isn't adequate - is thinking deep inside the box. How about some innovation and creativity? What about spending tax dollars to promote cleaner, more efficient transportation and local-regional economic development that keeps profits closer to home? (Or do you believe in trickle-down economics?)

    The powers pushing I-69 would prefer you to think we need this road to keep all our lives from going down the toilet. Look at the lobbying from the road industry that went on - you didn't answer my question about that.

    -- Posted by circle on Tue, Mar 10, 2009, at 10:23 AM
  • All good points circle. I too believe we are not taking care of what God gave us. I don't believe, however, that developing and "not tearing up land" can be used in the same sentence though. I am not sure how you can develop land and not tear up some of the land. Keep in mind, our forefathers did quite a bit of tearing up of the land when they came across on the ships over 200 yrs ago. I believe as you do that the I70-41 corridor is the best. These small towns were thriving long ago and will not thrive again unless we give them reason to. Linton is a bedroom community. I have lived here all of my life and have driven up to an hour one way my entire adult life to find good paying jobs. If this area stays the same it will not change my life, but there are many in this community that need jobs and we are not going to get them here unles we change the mindset.

    -- Posted by POP on Tue, Mar 10, 2009, at 11:20 AM
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