I-69 Bridgelink Update
Coming soon will be the biggest single infrastructure investment in our region—ever—the I-69 Bridge Project. More than just the bridge, this project will modernize existing interchanges, solve safety and congestion issues, open our options for moving about the region, and spur economic development.
Our region is the largest in the United States with only one
cross-river access over a major river. We have all learned to live with the congestion and the interruptions that come
with the US 41 Ohio River crossing, but change is coming.
The Southwest Indiana Chamber has been a long-time advocate for the construction of I-69, the Interstate Corridor that will ultimately connect the Michigan Great Lakes with the Gulf of Mexico by way of our region, Memphis and then across Texas. With Gov. Eric Holcomb’s Next Level funding commitment, completion of I-69 through Indiana is certain.
Now we need to ensure that our region does not become the cul-de-sac that
forces interstate traffic onto our aging bridges that are already congested with our
local traffic. Both the Indiana Department of Transportation and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet have been working with the Federal Highway Administration to complete a joint recommendation (the DEIS) for the I-69 Bridge we’ve anticipated for decades. They released the recommended route (details available at www. i69ohiorivercrossing.com) which will cross the Ohio River about 1.5 miles east of U.S. 41 The recommendation also proposes keeping the northbound span of the existing bridges only. Finally, the DIES proposes tolling the new bridge crossing and leaves open the question of tolling our existing bridge.
Over the past month hundreds of you attended the public hearings and community conversations hosted by the bridge project team. Many hundreds more provided opinions or asked questions about the recommended route, the proposal to take down half of the existing bridge pair and about where and how much tolling is acceptable. Thank you if you participated. Your input will all be incorporated in the next important step of the process, making a final decision on the project route corridor and sorting out how the project is paid for.
Here’s what the Project Team heard:
• Broad support for the recommended corridor. It will be the least expensive, require the least interference with businesses operating along the 41 corridor, require taking the fewest homes, and have the least impact on the environment.
• Lots of support for keeping both existing bridges that comprise the U.S. 41 crossing.
• Broad concern with tolling the U.S. 41 bridges because of the impact on our local workforce traveling between home and work, getting to medical services, and having the opportunity to do business back and forth without added cost.
The Southwest Indiana Chamber has long supported the interests we heard expressed during January and will continue working to make this project a reality as soon as possible because with this new bridge, we will prove that “Together we Thrive.”