The Washington Times-Herald

February 17, 2013

Release I-69 land records

Our Opinion

Washington Times-Herald

WASHINGTON — It is one thing to see government malfeasance in someone else’s area, but not in our own backyard.

The revelation by The Indianapolis Star of Interstate 69 land deals by Indiana Department of Transportation Chief of Staff Troy Woodruff and some family members are startling, but not surprising considering the millions of dollars used to purchase land that someone would try to get ahead.

The state, and now the federal government, are investigating. Although the state’s Inspector General office did investigate last year, it took The Star, which has the resources to undertake such an investigation, to uncover the suspicious transactions.

But the investigation cannot stop with the Woodruffs. There could be more transactions that were over their original appraisals. Currently, the state is withholding the appraisal information.

This is why we join others in asking the state of Indiana release appraisals for land and homes that were purchased for I-69.

The reason why the appraisals should be released is to see what public dollars bought in creating the interstate.

In the information released to The Star and the Times Herald from INDOT, it shows many transactions that were above $10,000 an acre for farmland, especially for land around the I-69/U.S. 50 interchange.

For example, one farm received $46,324 for 1.256 acres of land. What did that money purchase? A barn? Loss of future revenue from production?

Another example, the state purchased 147 acres of land for $560,000, or $3,809 an acre.

Why was that purchase price low when other land went for as much as $13,000 an acre.

Many landowers were listed on the information provided, and we do not even know about homes the state purchased. Those who sacrificed their homes deserve to know if some people unjustly benefited from the interstate. They need to know if some pocketed extra cash, while others had to uproot their lives and homes. Those who gave deserve better, and to let the public see what was purchased.

Transparency is government is always a good thing. And, in this case, becomes even more important, as there is more land to purchase and more road to build to get the interstate all the way to Indianapolis.