Preferred Route For I-69 Bridge Unveiled

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IEDC President Jim Schellinger says the I-69 expansion project was a key factor in attracting the company. IEDC President Jim Schellinger says the I-69 expansion project was a key factor in attracting the company.

The team overseeing the I-69 Ohio River Crossing project has unveiled a preferred route for the extension of the interstate connecting Evansville and Henderson, Kentucky. The group has also released the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the effort, which identifies preferred alternatives for the route with different tolling options.

The project team, which includes the Indiana Department of Transportation and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, is recommending the preferred alternative known as Central Alternative 1 for the new bridge over the Ohio River. The corridor includes a four-lane I-69 bridge, the continued use of the northbound U.S. 41 bridge for local traffic, and new interchanges at U.S. 41, U.S. 60 and Veterans Memorial Parkway.

The project team's recommendation also includes two alternatives for tolling. Central Alternative 1A includes tolls on both the new I-69 bridge and the existing U.S. 41 bridge, while Central Alternative 1B only tolls the I-69 bridge.

The project team says the Central Alternative has the fewest residential relocations, no commercial relocations, and has the fewest impacts to wetlands, floodways, streams, and managed lands. The corridor has a total estimated cost of just under $1.5 billion, making it the lowest-cost option, which includes roadway and bridge operations and maintenance for 35 years.

The DEIS estimates construction on the route could begin in late 2021 with the new bridge opening to traffic as early as 2025.

The board of directors for BridgeLink, an advocacy group that includes elected, civic and business leaders in southwest Indiana and western Kentucky, commended the recommendation in a news release Friday. The group says the preferred corridor is "proven to be the best location for economic development, cross river mobility, ease of traffic congestion, and minimal negative local impacts."

"The construction of this bridge is vital to Evansville and our future," said Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke, a member of the BridgeLink board. "We have seen improved connectivity to the rest of the state with the construction of I-69, and this cross river mobility will open our connectivity to the south."

The project team has scheduled a pair of public meetings as part of a formal comment period, which runs through February. They include:

  • Henderson Open House: January 7 from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Henderson Community College Preston Arts Center - 2660 S. Green St.
  • Evansville Open House: January 8 from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Old National Events Plaza, Locust meeting rooms - 715 Locust St.

After considering all public comments, the states will confirm the preferred alternative in the Final Environmental Impact Statement. The Federal Highway Administration will give final approval of the preferred alternative in a Record of Decision, which is expected in late 2019.

You can view the Draft Environmental Impact Statement by clicking here.

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