Future I-69 route being debated again

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Indianapolis, IN (Feb 4, 2015) – Advocates to the south of Indianapolis are making a push to allow future construction of I-69 to run through Perry Township in southern Marion County.

State law essentially bans I-69 construction through Perry Township.  That language was included in Mitch Daniels’ “Major Moves” legislation from 2006.  Supporters of the ban say it protects Perry Township business and property owners from being uprooted and displaced by highway construction.

“About 200 jobs that would be displaced,” said Senator Brent Waltz (R, Indianapolis).  “Several hundred million dollars in assessed property valuation that would go away as the federal government would take that land along the 37 corridor, which would be a de facto property tax increase on every single home, every single business in Perry Township.”

But House Bill 1036, authored by Representative John Price (R, Greenwood) would remove the ban and allow State Transportation officials to use State Road 37 as the I-69 route between I-465 and Martinsville.  Price called the Perry Township ban a “road block” to the process of completing the highway that would eventually connect Canada to Mexico.

“Want to get that removed and then get back on the job of getting all the facts, all the information and let INDOT make those decisions and we’ll proceed from there,” Price said.

The I-69 extension is already under construction in several parts through southern Indiana.  One stretch between Bloomington and Martinsville already follows the State Road 37 route.  A study conducted about a decade ago found the State Road 37 route to be the most cost effective.

Several Mayors attended Wednesday’s Roads and Transportation Committee to show their support for HB 1036.  Mayors of Martinsville, Franklin and Greenwood say they’ve been expecting and preparing for I-69 to follow State Road 37.

“Spent thousands of dollars of dollars on the infrastructure getting ready, assisting with new businesses and industry to relocate pending that,” said Martinsville Mayor Phil Deckard.

“For the city of Greenwood, we don’t actually reach 37,” said Greenwood Mayor Mark Myers.  “But we’re creating an east-west corridor that would eventually line up with SR 144 and 37.  And we’ve already sunk over 20 million dollars into that east-west corridor.”

“The ability to open up that as an option provides additional jobs for Franklin if this would be the preferred route,” said Franklin Mayor Joe McGuinness.

Price points out that his bill would not name SR 37 as the preferred route.  It would only lift the Perry Township ban and allow INDOT to choose the route if studies find it to be the best option.

But he will face opposition from Waltz and others who say the construction would do more harm than good for Perry Township.

The bill did not receive a vote Wednesday.  The Roads and Transportation Committee will have two more meetings between now and February 18.

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