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.
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.