Tag Archives: I-69

President Jeb Conrad Talks I-69 Summit Success

Your Chamber was proud to be the lead organizer for the I-69 Regional Summit…Driving Opportunity here in Bloomington on October 20-21. The Summit brought together more than 350 representatives from various sectors including business, government, higher education, defense, economic development, tourism, agriculture, trade and logistics to examine ways to enable collaboration and leverage the new and existing I-69 corridor from a statewide perspective.

The Chamber conceived the Summit for a series of reasons, but most importantly to have a forum for strategic discussions with respect to the impact and opportunities this new major infrastructure project will have on the business environment locally, regionally, statewide and nationally.

Highlights included a panel luncheon with Congressmen Todd Rokita, Larry Bucshon and Todd Young, who are all members of the I-69 Congressional Caucus, moderated by Gerry Dick of Inside INdiana Business. Keynote speakers Lt. Governor Sue Ellspermann and Becky Skillman, President and CEO of Radius Indiana, shared their vision and perspective.  Attendees participated in breakouts and panel discussions on topics including trade/logistics, land use planning, understanding P3s, site selection and economic development. Other highlights included a tour of the Section 4 project and an evening reception at the IU Memorial Stadium.

The Summit provided a forum for interested parties and experts to come together, learn of the progress of I-69 in each of the corridor states, understand the global influence of its future and a chance to make new contacts. I was amazed at the significance this interstate will have for enabling trade and logistics from Mexico to Canada, and opening new avenues for connecting our region to the world. It is easy to see the local challenges and opportunities as the road pushes through, but a realistic view from 35,000 feet is necessary to be well prepared and take advantage of the opportunities the infrastructure brings to our region.

The State of Indiana also sees I-69 as the most impactful project for the tourism industry. Having interstate access to the State’s unique assets that attract visitors, is expected to generate new ways to capture travelers’ dollars in Indiana, expose a broader audience to these assets, and attract new business opportunities in this industry sector.

Locally, I-69 will bring safe and efficient connectivity for our businesses, employees and customers between Evansville and Indianapolis, not to mention Crane Naval Base. This will open new doors for employers to operate more effectively in the region, expand their employee base and capture additional business and residential investment.

The Summit was an excellent way for our Chamber to showcase our local businesses, connect them to other key contacts and open the door to see what Bloomington, Monroe County and the region have to offer.

It was a huge task for us to take on, but with the support of a great Committee, key partners like the Indiana Chamber of Commerce and Hoosier Voices for I-69, and our sponsors, this event puts us on the map on a broader scale as we move forward. A public thank you to all those who made this event possible and we look forward to hosting again in 2015, our Chamber’s 100th Anniversary!

If you are interested in more information from the Summit, you can access such at www.I69Summit.com or our Chamber website.




I-69: What’s Next for Section 5?

In the coming months, the footprint will be largely determined for I-69’s Section 5, the segment that stretches south of Bloomington near Victor Pike to just south of Martinsville.

In April, the Indiana Department of Transportation released a revised Screening of Alternatives outlining four potential scenarios for Bloomington’s section of highway, notably the location and design of interchanges as well as how large the route will be once constructed.

Morgan Hutton - Director of Advocacy & Public Policy

In short, Alternatives 4 and 5 are design options that were carried over from the original Screening of Alternatives published in 2007. Two new alternatives, 6 and 7, are identified as “minimal impact,” and are significantly different from the prior two in that they carry a much smaller footprint, utilizing the existing pavement, grade, structures and right-of-way of SR 37. Under these two scenarios, travel lanes would be added in urban areas on the inside of existing SR 37, with north and south lanes separated by a shoulder and centerline median barriers. Rural portions would continue to be separated by grassy medians.

With that, this column is not intended to provide a description or thorough explanation of what the highway may look like, or its utility, under any proposed scenario. (The full report can be found at i69indyevn.com) The point is – this is it, the time has come, and decisions must be made. It is prime time for members of the community – and key elected officials, to take a serious look at the options available and how we may best position ourselves to get the best deal we can.

Under each of the alternatives, there are tradeoffs. Should it be built in (smaller) or out (bigger)? At which locations is an underpass or overpass more appropriate than a full interchange, and vise versa? What types of interchange designs are more functional? Where are opportunities for non-motorist access? What is the tradeoff between desirable highway features and minimizing impacts to resources and right-of-way? There are still many questions yet to be addressed. And the clock is ticking.

This fall, INDOT will return to the Bloomington/Monroe County MPO to have preliminary engineering and right-of-way costs for Section 5 added to the local Transportation Improvement Program – a critical and timely step in the process to ensure necessary safety upgrades can happen on SR 37 before Section 4 opens to traffic bringing I-69 from Evansville to Bloomington by the end of 2014.

This means, to avoid an unnecessary stalemate between the local MPO and INDOT, we have to be prepared by knowing what our current options are and give good, reasonable input on community priorities and how those priorities serve to develop the most functional highway for the future.

How can you get involved? View the Section 5 Screening of Alternatives at i69indyevn.com and click on Tier 2 Environmental Studies. Public comment is being sought and can be submitted through the project website. Stay up to date on the latest by visiting the Hoosier Voices for I-69 website at www.buildi69.com and follow on twitter @buildi69.

Public Hearing for Section 4 of I-69 This Week

I-69 is likely to be a hot topic this week as several highway related meetings are scheduled to take place.

A public hearing is set for 5:00-9:00 p.m. on Thursday, August 26th at the Eastern Green Middle School gymnasium. At this hearing, INDOT will present the preferred alternative route for Section 4, the stretch of highway that connects CRANE to SR 37 in Southern Monroe County. Public comment will be accepted on the Section 4 Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) during the meeting and may be submitted to INDOT through September 28th.

The Technical Advisory Committee of the Bloomington/Monroe County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) met this morning with I-69 related business on the agenda. INDOT is asking the local MPO to amend its Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) to include preliminary engineering, right of way, and construction phases for I-69 due to the 1 ¾ miles of Section 4 highway that falls within the MPO’s planning jurisdiction. The Technical Advisory Committee, tasked with reviewing the requested amendment and making recommendation to the Policy Committee of the MPO, voted unanimously in favor of the amendment. The Citizen’s Advisory Committee meets this evening at 6:30 to discuss and vote on the amendment. The Policy Committee will make its decision on September 10th.

Bypass Expansion Bids Opened, While I-69 Ahead of Schedule

Over the last couple of weeks, the state has made significant announcements regarding road work that will be taking place in the area over the next few years. On May 19th , INDOT opened the bids for the long awaited State Road 45/46 Bypass expansion, and on the same day, Governor Daniels announced an accelerated schedule for I-69 that will bring the highway into Monroe County by 2012, several years ahead of schedule.

For more than 20 years, the state and the community have discussed widening the often congested and avoided bypass. The Chamber has also made the project a priority, particularly to enhance 21 st century job creation as Indiana University works to build its technology park at 10 th and the Bypass. Through this important initiative, our community can strengthen its position as a leader in technology and bio and life sciences, harnessing IU-led research to bring innovative products to the market through public and private sector partnerships. In addition, the expansion will clear the way to more efficiently bring consumers to the growing College Mall area as well as businesses along and near the Bypass from SR 37 on east. This project is a great ‘win’ for the community, particularly during a time when many states are forgoing road improvements and the construction industry is ailing from the economic downturn. Chamber member Milestone Contractors was awarded the nearly $22 million dollar contract. Continue reading