Officials with the Indiana Department of Transportation say the years-long push to connect Indiana north to south via Interstate 69 is on schedule to open to traffic in 2024.
During a public forum at Perry Meridian High School Thursday, INDOT officials circulated papers proclaiming, “The finish line is in sight!” for the $1.5 billion update to Section 6 of I-69, a corridor that extends from Martinsville to Indianapolis.
“The finish line is in sight for I-69 in Indiana, connecting Evansville to Indianapolis,” said Project Director Sarah Rubin as she gave a presentation to more than 300 citizens in the high school’s auditorium.
Officials like Rubin said the improvements, which were fully funded with help from Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb’s Next Level Connections infrastructure program, are worth the temporary detours and changes to local property. When complete, the I-69 Section 6 project is expected to reduce car crashes, lessen commute times and generate $4.1 billion for local economies in the next 20 years.
The Section 6 phase is broken into five separate contracts. INDOT workers are currently completing contract one, which calls for improvements to local roads in Martinsville. Construction on the first contract is expected to last until 2020.
But as INDOT unveiled aesthetic updates that will come with the project in Morgan, Johnson and Marion counties, 37-year-old Johnny Baker of Southport said he wants to see a greater focus on design in Marion County to preserve property values on Indianapolis’ south side.
“If you just look at the different posters, you’ll see that we have the least amount of options,” Baker said about bridge features proposed for underpasses where I-69 will connect with I-465. “You go look at Johnson County, and they have a beautiful bridge and they have very nice-looking lighting. Same thing with Martinsville. And then you look at Marion County and it’s basically just cement.”
Rubin said there’s still time for citizens to choose aesthetic details like the brick bridges and lights proposed in other counties. There are also opportunities to comment on proposals for noise barriers.
Rubin noted the current features in Marion County are in line with recommendations offered by Indianapolis’ Department of Public Works.
“In our coordination with DPW there was a desire to have kind of a uniformity along the south side, and so that is factored into the options folks saw this evening,” she said. “Another thing to keep in mind is the long-term operation and maintenance of these features.”
Citizens can track updates to the Section 6 project at 169finishline.com.