Senior staff writer
The initial plan to utilize State Road 37 as the corridor for expanded I-69 to connect at I-465 on the Southside remains alive after Indiana Department of Transportation officials revealed the final five routes under consideration.
Section 6, the expansion from south of Martinsville to Indianapolis, is the last part of the interstate puzzle connecting Indianapolis with Evansville. The final segment, which still requires state funding, could extend into Morgan, Johnson and Marion counties.
When I-69 expansion plans were unveiled in 2004, the initial route followed the existing State Road 67 corridor, pending public meetings and environmental impact studies.
Johnson County leaders and the Greater Greenwood Chamber of Commerce support the initial route through Johnson County and Perry Township. However, some business owners and residents continue to oppose that route because flourishing businesses may be affected.
Two of the five alternatives would go through Martinsville to Whiteland Road in Johnson County or cut off before reaching the county and eventually connecting with I-465.
The other two alternative routes would branch off State Road 37 just north of Martinsville, extend northwest and connect with I-70 in Hendricks County west of Indianapolis International Airport and State Road 267 (Plainfield exit). Crossing the White River floodplain and construction of a bridge across the river are shown as disadvantages to a western route, which would connect with I-70.
The five alternatives of Section 6 to be considered have been whittled down from more than 20 routes under consideration, including some that would have sent I-69 eastward to connect with I-65 and possibly I-74.
State officials held meetings in late February and mid-May in White River Township and in Martinsville to trim the routes to the five final alternatives.
Based on those meetings and additional citizen input through June 2, 40 percent of those respondents favored the State Road 37 corridor; however, 34 percent favored a route connecting with I-70 to provide an alternative route for truck transportation to and from the airport.
The legislature opened the door earlier this year for INDOT to continue the route into Perry Township. I-69, as initially proposed, would connect with I-465 just a few miles west of the existing I-465/State Road 37 interchange.
Impacted property owners along the alternatives being considered are to be notified as the state intensifies its studies of rights-of-way and various impacts, including wetlands and habitats.
The reasonable alternatives will be presented to the public and government agencies later this year. Potential locations of interchanges, access roads and the footprint of the interstate will also be announced.
INDOT officials said surveys and cost estimates would be studied for all five alternatives. However, the focus remains on the State Road 37 corridor because it was identified in 2004 as the best possible route. The final route may not be determined until early 2018, when Tier 2 opens a store. Project officials can be contacted by calling 881-6408 or emailing email@example.com.