One more option is now on the table for the path of the Interstate 69 extension near Indianapolis.
Gov. Mike Pence signed into law a bill that nixes a nearly decade-long restriction on one option available to planners to complete the I-69 extension in southern Marion County. Specifically, HB1036 removes a requirement that state lawmakers must first authorize construction of the roadway in Perry Township.
The restriction adopted in 2006 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 for $3.85 billion.
Besides the toll lease, Daniels 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, called for 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, pursued the change to free up the Indiana Department of Transportation to consider allowing the final section of I-69 from Martinsville to Indianapolis on run along the Indiana 37 corridor. He said the highway would bring economic development benefits to his district.
However, he pointed out during discussion on the bill that it does not require the route to run through Perry Township.
The state DOT is considering 14 possible routes that would either run along Indianapolis’ south side or through bordering counties. The agency is expected to announce a preferred route for the final segment by early 2017.
A method of paying for the stretch of road has yet to be determined.
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