Senior staff writer
Nearly 400 people had their first look last week at how an extended Interstate-69 would affect the existing State Road 37 corridor.
Indiana Department of Transportation officials presented detailed maps and alternative alignments of the final section of I-69 from Martinsville through Perry Township at a public meeting April 4 at Perry Meridian High School.
Among the most concerned were home and business owners along the route and school and public officials.
Speaking on his home turf, Perry Township Schools Superintendent Thomas Little sought information on assessed valuation, property taxes and additional costs of longer bus routes to transport 4,000 students while voicing his concerns for the safety of 400 high school drivers near State Road 37.
“We need to know of the impact on school budgets and property taxes,” Dr. Little said. “Business owners have expressed concerns that they would be displaced and (move) out of the district … this will be huge.”
Little received assurances from INDOT officials that they would meet with him consistently to discuss the school district’s many concerns.
Detailed poster-size maps and aerial views were available for review and comment.
I-69 will have three lanes each way from County Road 144 to Southport Road and then four lanes each way to a new interchange at I-465, between State Road 37 and White River, going northwest from Epler Avenue.
All plans show alternative alignments for I-69 interchanges at State Road 144 and Smith Valley, County Line and Southport roads and overpasses/underpasses at Banta Road and Edgewood and Epler avenues, with two of three plans for Olive Branch and Fairview roads.
Planning for service roads along I-69 is of utmost importance to motorists who need access to east-west roads so they are not cut off.
Many residents who spoke at the meeting or to The Southsider Voice said they believe the state’s decision was predetermined and that they were anxious about the future of their property, which could be in limbo for several years. INDOT must complete its impact study before beginning to negotiate any land purchases.
Rep. David Frizzell, who represents most of the township, pledged to work with the governor and state officials to minimize the effect of I-69 in the township. “I’m disappointed to be where we are. I am very concerned about compensation for lost homes and businesses.”
City-County Councilor and former township Trustee Jack Sandlin deplored the potential loss of residences and businesses.
Sen. Brent Waltz has estimated that $300 million in assessed property eventually would be seized to build I-69 through the township.
Alternative alignments from Banta Road in northern Morgan County to a new I-465 interchange would impact 96 to 188 acres and 197 to 293 residential zoned parcels while resulting in 83 to 241 relocations and 52 to 221 parcels eliminated; commercially, 128 to 155 acres would be impacted, 122 to 145 properties, 22 to 45 relocations and 84 to 100 parcels eliminated.
No state or federal funding is expected until 2018 for rights-of-way purchase and construction; completion estimates range from 2022 to 2027.
The public can make comments by April 29 on the alternative alignments by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 881-6408.