INDOT to host ‘open house’ for questions about the final stretch of the I-69 extension

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Indiana Department of Transportation officials will host an open house on Monday night to help answer questions about an interstate project that’ll affect hundreds of south side homes and businesses.

INDOT officials announced in late March — after many years of studies and discussions, experts chose State Road 37 for the final leg of the I-69 extension project. Since then, officials say they’ve been getting a lot of questions about the acquisition and relocation process, and they hope to answer some of questions this week during two open house events.

Officials have hosted public meetings about the project in the past with presentations, but Monday is the first “open house” format — a chance for people to talk to INDOT’s real estate team and ask specific questions.

INDOT officials say they’ll be looking at each home and business on a case by case basis to offer fair market value for the property. Still, some local business owners are wondering what “fair” means, and if they’ll be able to keep their business going in the future if they have to move.

“It depends what we get out of it,” said Brent Plunkett owner of “The Knuckle Sandwich” restaurant along State Road 37.

“If they’re buying it without the intent of us re-opening, then we probably can’t,” Plunkett said.

“They’ve already done five phases and paid out money for places, so how’s it going to be at the end — the same as the start?” Plunkett said.

“That’s a question I have, because I don’t think we should be short changed if they’re running low,” he said.

Lamar Holliday, a public involvement specialist for INDOT, says they want to assure home and business owners that funding will be available.

“INDOT has done many of these acquisition and relocation processes, and we know it’s never easy, that’s why our goal is to always be transparent and open about the process,” Holliday said.

The stretch on SR 37 will be the sixth phase of the INDOT I-69 interstate project, but Holliday says some people forget — it’s all part of a bigger project on I-69 connecting Mexico to Canada.

Construction locally on the south side won’t happen for years. INDOT still has to decided on road specifics, like ramp designs, and Holliday says the project wouldn’t even get Federal Approval until 2018. If the process goes smoothly from there, crews wouldn’t even start construction until possibly 2020 and the interstate wouldn’t open until 2022 at the very earliest.

Monday’s open house runs from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Perry Meridian High School. The public can show-up any time during that window. There will be another open house on Tuesday at Martinsville High School from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. as well.

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