INDOT: Time is Now to Ramp Up I-69 Planning
The Indiana Department of Transportation says "now is the time" to make economic plans around the proposed final section of the I-69 extension. Public Affairs Manager Andy Dietrick says, although construction is not likely to begin until 2020, there is "a lot of economic development thought to be given" to the planned $1.5 billion, 26-mile route between Martinsville and Indianapolis. His progress report comes on the heels of last week's I-69 Summit, which brought communities and businesses together to discuss the economic potential of the project.
During an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Dietrick said the "missing link" to the extension project is an interstate-quality bridge connecting the Kentucky and Indiana. He says the states are working together on issues including environmental planning, a preferred bridge route and whether the bridge would be tolled. A final study on those issues is expected in late 2019.
Dietrick says the already-completed extension from Evansville to Bloomington is a "great ride." Work on Section 5, from Bloomington to Martinsville is underway. He says the $1.5 billion pricetag on the planned Martinsville-to-Indianapolis stretch could come down, but organizers are estimating conservatively. Because both areas are urbanized, Dietrick says the process will include a lot of property acquisition, which accounts for some of the cost.
In March, INDOT released the Tier 2 Draft Environmental Impact Statement, identifying details of the preferred route, including 10 exit and 16 overpass and underpass locations and types. The recommended route, which would involve upgrades to State Road 37, could be complete in 2026.