Southsider Voice Correspondent
Will I-69 go through Perry Township?
The most immediate answer may come from the General Assembly, where a House committee recently sent Rep. John Price’s bill to override a 2006 law that bans I-69 from going through Perry Township. Rep. Mike Speedy of the Southside voted against the measure.
Strong opposition exists in the Senate as influential Sens. Patricia Miller and Brent Waltz from the Southside oppose lifting the ban.
The final answer may not come for two or three more years, according to a timetable outlined Monday by Indiana Department of Transportation officials during a hearing at Center Grove High School. An environmental impact study on the final phase of I-69 may not be completed until early 2018.
INDOT officials say they are studying options, but it was also stated Monday that “the original corridor will be considered throughout.” All plans for I-69 Section 6 (www.i69indyevn.org) show no alternatives to the path from Martinsville to I-465 along State Road 37.
That’s why Perry Township business owner Ronald Belcher stated, “There was a bill introduced and passed (2006) that it would not go through Perry Township and (plans) show after 10 years that it still goes through Perry Township. We didn’t want it then, and we don’t want it now.”
Construction of the 142-mile project is several miles south of Martinsville. Section 4 between Crane and Bloomington is expected to open by year’s end.
INDOT spokesman Will Wingfield told The Southsider Voice, “There were a number of alternatives studied in the original Tier 1 environmental (study) that was concluded in 2004. You mentioned the legislation that was passed in 2006; that enabled us to really build this project. We’ve been working our way from south (Evansville) to north.”
Seventeen adults made statements to INDOT and federal highway reps; some spoke against I-69 in Perry Township, but others favored the route because it would alleviate traffic congestion on Ind. 67. An estimated 200 adults attended the open house and public hearing Monday.
Perry Township business owner Randy Shields expressed his opposition to I-69 to The Southsider Voice by mentioning the $20 million price tag spent on Section 6 would have helped fund a potential second outer loop around the metropolitan area.
Southsider Cathy Weinmann criticized the route through Perry Township because it would bring more pollution to the Southside that is already plagued by pollution from IPL and the White River sewage plant.
“This project would bring more noxious diesel exhaust and noise pollution,” Weinmann said. “We object to being dumped on again.”
Several spoke in favor of I-69 and its proposed Ind. 37 alignment, but some sought refinements.
Johnson County business owner David Bleke sought an interchange at Stones Crossing Road to benefit Center Grove schools in the area as well as existing plans for interchanges at Ind. 144, Smith Valley Road and Johnson-Marion County Line Road.
Others brought up questions about the impact of traffic on Bluff Road and upon wildlife along nearby White River, funding the project and how to improve the existing Ind. 37/I-465 interchange.
Johnson County and Greenwood elected officials, the Greater Greenwood Chamber of Commerce and the Indiana Chamber of Commerce favor I-69 as planned.
INDOT officials admitted that the Ind. 37 corridor in Perry Township has changed in a decade with more businesses and residences.
“One of the major goals is to finish what we have started,” INDOT Section 6 project manager Kevin Hetrick said. “We want to look at what has changed in the past 11 years.”
A second public Section 6 meeting is Wednesday (Feb. 25) at 6:30 p.m. at Martinsville High School.
For more information about I-69, visit www.i69indyevn.org.