INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — After years of work, Indiana is weeks away from opening the first half of the Interstate 69 extension that’s slated to eventually run from the state’s southwestern corner to Indianapolis.
The Indiana Department of Transportation said Friday that a 67-mile section of the highway from Evansville to near the Crane Naval Surface Warfare Center will open Nov. 19. That stretch is roughly the first half of the planned $3 billion, 142-mile highway that was announced in early 2003.
INDOT said the section will connect communities from just northeast of Evansville at Interstate 64 to the U.S. 231 interchange about 20 miles southwest of Bloomington. Construction began in 2008.
The I-69 project has been the subject of numerous lawsuits filed by environmentalists and others who supported an alternative proposal to upgrade existing highways.
Opponents contend the highway, two-thirds of which is being built over never-paved areas, will damage sensitive ecosystems and won’t live up to state officials’ claims of quicker travel times and an economic boost for the rural, isolated region.
Gov. Mitch Daniels said Friday in a statement that the state’s 75-year Indiana Toll Road lease to private operators for $3.8 billion helped the state deliver the first half of the highway years ahead of schedule.
“Many people said this interstate expansion wouldn’t happen in their lifetime, but it’s now poised to open and the result will be greater economic opportunity, faster and safer travel, improved connectivity, easier access for leisure travel and more,” Daniels said.
Money from the leasing paid for most of the 67 miles of new highway, which cost $620 million — about $80 million under its construction budget, said INDOT spokesman Will Wingfield. He attributed those savings to good design and the nation’s weak economy, which lowered the highway’s construction costs.
State officials set aside $700 million from the Toll Road proceeds for the I-69 project, but most of that money has been spent. Wingfield said the state hopes to complete the project with revenue from federal and state gasoline taxes and by also exploring “innovative financing” options.
Tim Maloney, executive director of the Hoosier Environmental Council, one of the groups that sued the state over the I-69 extension, said the state agency isn’t including in its tally for the 67-mile segment the costs for land acquisition, relocating utility infrastructure and design and engineering.
With those, Maloney said the cost of the 67-mile stretch actually totals more than $900 million.
“They persist in telling the public that they’re under budget when their own planning documents show what the full cost is. ... It’s misleading the public,” he said.
Over the coming weeks, Wingfield said, crews will finish the section by completing a concrete deck and railing along a 4,400-foot-long bridge through the Patoka River Wildlife Refuge.
Wingfield said the next section — a 27-mile stretch that will run from the Crane area to just south of Bloomington — is scheduled to open in late 2014. It’s projected to cost about $600 million, and will cut across a rugged, wooded area that’s filled with caves, springs and sinkholes. Environmentalists warn the area is highly sensitive and harbors populations of the federally endangered Indiana bat.
Wingfield said it’s uncertain when the final two sections — from Bloomington to Martinsville and Martinsville to Indianapolis — would be complete. Those segments remain in the design and environmental study phase.
- Local News
- City's gateway project about to hit full stride A road construction project designed to give the city of Washington a new entrance for traffic coming off of I-69 is underway. The $3 million project will build a new connector road between the U.S. 50 Bypass and Business 50. The project will also i
- Community Foundation awards $62K in scholarships Area students' achievements were celebrated Tuesday evening during the Daviess County Community Foundation scholarship reception held at the Washington Knights of Columbus. The scholarships awarded are all funds established through the Foundation. "
- Getting a diploma now more important for Hoosiers Obtaining a college degree, or even a high school diploma, was not always as critical to one's success as it is today. However, in order to succeed in today's workforce, a high school diploma is absolutely critical, and this is a realization facing H
- Sports Briefs Hatchets beat Linton LINTON -- The Washington baseball team defeated Linton 8-7 Tuesday evening. Washington used a five-run sixth inning to overcome a 7-3 deficit and pick up its fourth win of the season. Jake Bedwell led the Hatchets offensively wit
- Thursday's police report CITY REPORT Wednesday 4:39 a.m. - A resident at 1207 Washington Ave. reported someone has slashed four tires on one vehicle and two tires on a second vehicle parked outside of the home. 7:05 a.m. - An employee at Chuckles, 201 N.E. Fifth St., reporte
- Thursday's Area Briefs Boil notice ordered Daviess County Rural Water System has issued a precautionary boil water advisory for customers on CR 450S east of SR 257 to the address of 4431 until further notice. I-69 beams to move on state roads Progress continues on the I-69
- City forms bicentennial committee for 2016 The city of Washington held its first meeting to plan the celebration of the city's bicentennial in 2016. Mayor Joe Wellman, according to a release, gathered a group of 25 at a local restaurant to start planning to celebrate 200 years of Washington.
- North Daviess cleans up at Crane CRANE -- North Daviess Junior and Senior High School students fared well at the 30th Annual Team Crane Science and Engineering Fair Wednesday at WestGate Academy Conferencing and Training Center. Over 120 students took part in the event that for the
- Wednesday's police report CITY REPORT Tuesday 2:01 p.m. - Steve Myers, 604 Sunset Ave., said his strawberry patch was run over. A neighbor was contacted and the situation was resolved. COUNTY REPORT Monday 7:57 p.m. - An employee of Par-T-Pac liquors in Montgomery said two ma
- ND board looks at handbook ND board looks at handbook BY Lindsay Owens Times Herald
- More Local News Headlines