Governor Frank O’Bannon said today
that the Indiana extension of Interstate 69 - the national north-south highway
that eventually will take motorists from border to border - will be an economic
engine for areas of the state not now served by an interstate highway.
The new highway will speed
Evansville-to-Indianapolis travel times and promote accessibility throughout
Southwest Indiana, he said.
O’Bannon visited Evansville - which stands
to greatly benefit from the highway - to announce that he has accepted a
recommendation from the Indiana Department of Transportation that the highway
be extended along a route known as 3-C, which will follow IND 57 north from
Evansville to Washington, proceed through Daviess County to the Monroe-Greene
county line, head due east to IND 37 and follow that route to Indianapolis.
route passes Crane Naval Weapons Center, solidifying it as a vital asset to
Indiana and the nation.
drove here, on some narrow two-land roads, behind some slow-moving vehicles,
but on the most direct route we could find,” O’Bannon said.
the experience - one I’ve repeated hundreds of times over the years - confirmed
in my mind what years of studies and years of public input have suggested: That
the best route for Indiana’s future - as determined by the exhaustive and
comprehensive study done by the Indiana Department of Transportation - is the
route known as 3-C.
is a route to economic health and educational opportunities for many, many
Hoosiers - those in its immediate vicinity, but also citizens from around
Indiana and our northern and southern neighbors, who will feel more connected
with the rest of the country.”
3-C is expected to generate $162 million in personal income growth a year; put
360,000 more Hoosiers within an hour of a major college or university; reduce
the number of traffic accidents by 1,567 a year; and save freight shippers $51
million a year in truck operating costs.
saves 26 minutes of travel time over current routes - and that translates into
$1.38 billion in driver time and vehicle operating cost savings over 20 years.
decision announced today is a major milestone in a lengthy process that will
culminate with construction of the interstate. If every step proceeds as
expected, the highway will be completed in eight to 14 years. It will cost $1.7
billion, 80 percent of which will be paid with federal funds.
of I-69 has been an issue for many years. But INDOT started the current process
in December 1999 when it began an environmental impact study that looked at the
project from a number of angles, including its value as an economic and
transportation engine for Southwest Indiana.
study team initially proposed 14 routes. That number was pared to five routes -
with 12 variations - in late 2001, and more detailed study was conducted on
each. Later, the U.S. EPA asked INDOT to consider hybrids of the five routes,
which also were reviewed by the study team.
said he knew some people would be upset about the chosen route, but he pledged
to “do everything in my power to minimize damage to farmland, forests, wetlands
and other natural assets.”
also acknowledged that some who live and work in the Terre Haute area will be
disappointed with the decision.
we have not forgotten you,” he said. “With this decision, we are providing
interstate access to a part of the state that has never had it.
Haute has been fortunate enough to have close access to Interstate 70 for many
years. And we will make that even more valuable. Our long-term transportation
plans call for I-70 to be widened to six lanes between Indianapolis and Terre
governor also noted that people who live in and near Bloomington are split on
the value of having I-69 pass near their city, but that the state would work
hard to ensure that the Bloomington way of life is preserved and that
the city’s economic footing is strengthened - just as Columbus and Seymour’s
characteristics were preserved but their economies improved when Interstate 65
I-69 Study Team now will begin the important work of finalizing the
environmental report, working with the appropriate state and federal agencies
to develop mitigation plans,” INDOT Commissioner J. Bryan Nicol said. “Once
that work is completed later this year, the team will begin final alignment,
design, land acquisition and construction on this important project for our
Governor’s office: Mary Dieter or Andrew Stoner, 317-232-4578
INDOT: Roger Manning, 317- 234-1213