Senior staff writer
Greenwood leaders are applauding the Indiana Department of Transportation’s decision to extend Interstate-69 along State Road 37.
Mayor Mark Myers and Greater Greenwood Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Christian Maslowski re-emphasized that INDOT’s announcement opens the door for commerce in the entire area.
“This is a huge win for the city,” Myers said. “This has a huge impact on economic development and a huge bonus as we bring in extra business to our community.”
Myers contended that the city’s steps to widen and improve Worthsville Road are integral for a potential east-west route that would link traffic from an expanded I-69 to State Road 135 to I-65 to I-74.
Maslowski said he believes the I-69 route on the State Road 37 corridor will lead to light manufacturing, which is much-needed in the western townships of Johnson County along with high-tech, logistics and service industries.
“This means a diverse set of jobs and good wages for local residents,” Maslowski told The Southsider Voice.
“This means stability and confidence in investing in that corridor, a finality in the process of what’s coming. We have businesses that have suppressed their expansion plans because they didn’t know what would happen to 37.”
Meanwhile, many questions remain in Perry Township, the northernmost extension of the route between County Line Road and I-465 before it connects with I-465. Exact locations of interchanges, overpasses and underpasses of east-west roads on the final extension of I-69 are to be determined.
INDOT officials revealed last week that nearly 100 businesses could be closed or relocated and almost 300 homeowners could be adversely affected along the route from Martinsville to I-465. Many of those sites are in northern Johnson County and southern Marion County.
Proposed interchanges are to be located at State Road 144 and Smith Valley, County Line and Southport roads.
Underpasses or overpasses are being considered for Stones Crossing, Olive Branch, Fairview, Wicker and Banta roads plus Epler and Edgewood avenues. INDOT officials also emphasized that service roads would have to be constructed so that some areas are not completely cut off.
A new interchange to connect expanded I-69 to I-465 would be constructed between the existing interchange and White River. Businesses north of Edgewood would be accessed from the existing interchange at State Road 37 (Harding Street).
Center Grove and Perry Township school officials continue to seek reassurances that transportation routes to schools will be minimally affected by the completion of I-69.
State Sen. Brent Waltz has consistently deplored the loss of assessed valuation of property in Perry Township, which could amount to $100 million.
Undoubtedly, businesses along the road could be negatively affected by closing or moving from intersections. Officials last week hyped the road corridor as the logical choice for the final 27-mile leg of I-69 to link Indianapolis and Evansville.
“We want residents and businesses to continue to engage as we find how I-69 will take shape in the future and in this final segment,” INDOT Commissioner Brandye Hendrickson said last week in Waverly. “INDOT is working with residents, businesses across the area to best serve them with proposed interchanges, overpasses, underpasses and access roads.”
Meetings were held earlier this week at Perry Meridian and Martinsville high schools to discuss the impact.
INDOT studies show that I-69 eventually will add to driver safety, reduce travel times from Martinsville to Downtown Indianapolis by 11 minutes and increase wages by $1.7 billion and gross domestic product by $2.4 billion in the four-county study area over 20 years.
Funding becomes the next hurdle for the 27-mile route because no state monies have been allocated for the project.