Hundreds show up to voice concerns over new I-69 plan

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (April 4, 2016) -- At the first of two public meetings this week, INDOT officials heard from residents and business owners who are worried about the impact of a new stretch of I-69.

The meeting was held at Perry Meridian High School, in one of the areas that has been most opposed to the project since it was first explored a decade ago.

Resident Gary Petersen described the feeling as "looking into the unknown." Petersen's home backs up to State Road 37, the planned location of the new section of interstate.

"It’s going to affect me one way or the other, even if they don’t take my property," Petersen said.

Last week, INDOT announced it had chosen State Road 37 out of five options for the last leg of I-69 between Evansville and the north part of the state. It will use as much of the existing road as possible between Bloomington and I-465 in Indianapolis.

The plan comes at a price, though, as hundreds of residents and businesses will be forced to move. Many told CBS4 they had lived in their homes for decades.

"I’m not happy with it at all," resident Dianna Craft said.

Craft said she doesn't think her property will be affected, but the exit ramp at County Line Road will be right in her front yard. She said she is hoping to be bought out by a business or other entity, rather than stay.

"It’s a bad circumstance," Craft said.

Since it made the announcement, INDOT spokesperson Lamar Holliday said the department had been fielding lots of questions.

"People have called, they have emailed, they have stopped by our project office and ... (the) main question is, 'How will this impact me?'" Holliday said.

INDOT doesn't have the answer, yet, though. The department presented three potential options for each interchange to residents at the meeting, saying it will use some combination of them based on public feedback. It also doesn't expect to get federal approval for the project until 2018, at which point it could start buying properties.

Public comment at Monday night's meeting varied, but most was negative.

"I think the economic benefits for our county and our community will be substantial and I applaud the decision that the committee has made," resident Dick Douglas said.

"Why did you spend all this money restudying something that was already cast in stone, preordained?" resident William Boyd said.

"I’ve been limbo for the last 10 years since this all came out, now you want me in limbo for another two years? I have to make things happen," business owner Troy Smith said.

"This plan follows the money. You just follow the money and you know why this plan is being put in place, but it has no vision for the future," another resident said.

INDOT will take public comment at another meeting Tuesday, April 5 at Martinsville High School. An open house is scheduled for 6 p.m., followed by a 7 p.m. presentation and comment section.

INDOT officials said they would host private meetings with any stakeholders or visit with residents at the project office, located at 7847 Waverly Road in Martinsville. You can also comment online. More information can be found at the link here.

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