A group of Indiana and Kentucky leaders advocating for an I-69 bridge across the Ohio River says new modifications could shave $600 million off the previous proposal. BridgeLink says narrowing the bridge's shoulders and cutting it from six to four lanes would drop the estimated cost to $800 million. The new plan also adjusts the route, which would eliminate three miles from the span. BridgeLink Executive Director Justin Groenert tells Inside INdiana Business executives plan to seek funding for an environmental impact study during the next legislative session. He says the group was inspired to reduce the project's scale by the I-70 bridge that crosses the Mississippi River in St. Louis.

BridgeLink took input from companies involved in the construction and excavation industries, plus area chambers of commerce and other local business stakeholders.

The organization recently took the proposal to Indiana Governor Mike Pence, Kentucky Governor Steve Bashear and the heads of each state's transportation departments.

Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke said the proposal “received a huge boost” when the state released results of a Blue Ribbon Transportation study committee, which included listing a potential I-69 bridge as a “Tier 1” priority.

Other projects landing that designation include Adding travel lanes to I-65 and I-70, as well as the so-called “Commerce Connector,” which would allow better commercial travel between interstates in and around central Indiana.

Winnecke says the next major step is to seek approval for an environmental study.

The new plan continues to envision the bridge as a toll route, which Groenert says could generate millions to help offset construction and other costs.

Groenert also serves as director of government relations and public policy with the Southwest Indiana Chamber of Commerce.

Source: Inside INdiana Business

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