A bill nearing passage at the Indiana General Assembly would nix a restriction in place for nearly a decade on the path of the Interstate 69 extension near Indianapolis.
The Senate Homeland Security and Transportation Committee voted on Tuesday, April 7, to advance a bill that would update a 2006 law that prohibits construction of the I-69 extension in southern Marion County. Specifically, HB1036 would remove a requirement that state lawmakers must first authorize construction of the roadway in Perry Township.
The bill awaits further consideration on the Senate floor. If approved there, HB1036 would head to the governor’s desk. House lawmakers already approved it on an 83-11 vote.
The rule was included in then-Gov. Mitch Daniels’ “Major Moves” initiative. The main component of the initiative was the lease of the Indiana Toll Road for 75 years in return for $3.85 billion.
Besides the toll lease, the governor got the green light to build an extension of I-69 with a requirement to shift the roadway west of Perry Township in southern Indianapolis.
Advocates said the requirement was necessary to avoid harm to the state Road 37 corridor. Instead, Sen. Pat Miller, R-Indianapolis, who was behind the path restriction eight years ago, wants the new highway being built in six sections to tie into Interstate 70.
The 142-mile highway slated to connect Evansville to Indianapolis is partly built. The first three sections, a 70-mile stretch linking Evansville to Crane, opened to traffic in 2012.
Sections four and five from Crane, southwest of Bloomington, to Martinsville are under construction.
Rep. John Price, R-Greenwood, is hopeful his bill could free up the Indiana Department of Transportation to instead run the final section of I-69 from Martinsville to Indianapolis on the Indiana 37 corridor. He said the highway would bring economic development benefits to his district.
However, he pointed out during a committee hearing that the bill does not require the route to run through Perry Township.
“My bill merely removes the barriers in existing law that prohibits utilization of the state Road 37 corridor,” Price testified. “This bill allows INDOT to make the best decision possible.”
The state DOT is conducting an environmental impact review of route alternatives. The process is expected to take up to three years.
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