Friday, June 6, 2008
ELPC is working with local environmental, farm, business and taxpayers’ organizations to prevent one of the nation’s great boondoggles: the controversial proposed “new terrain” Interstate 69 highway from Indianapolis to Evansville, in Southwestern Indiana.
Building this “new terrain” highway would be:
Economically Unjustified – There is no current or projected transportation need for this highway. Every $1 spent on the highway would bring only 81 cents in benefits, according to a study by an impartial Indiana University economist. Costs would exceed benefits by $115 million.
Agriculturally Destructive – The project would require construction of 141 miles of new highway, most of it through Indiana farmland. The right-of-way alone would destroy over 3,000 acres of farms, devastating farm families’ livelihoods and Southwest Indiana’s rural economy. Thousands more acres of farms would be lost to gas stations, fast food restaurants and other suburban sprawl.
Environmentally Harmful – I-69 would destroy over 1,000 acres of forest, roar through a National Wetlands Project, and cut through geologically sensitive “karst” terrain, threatening to pollute underground water systems and harm the rare species that live there.
Fiscally Irresponsible - To pay for a new I-69, Governor Frank O’Bannon would have to use up enormous amounts of Indiana’s discretionary highway dollars. Not enough would be left over to maintain roads and fund vital projects elsewhere in the state.
A plan to upgrade existing highways would create a travel time between Indianapolis and Evansville only 10 minutes longer than the same trip made on the proposed new highway. This alternative, using Interstate 70 and an upgraded US 41, would save $600 million of taxpayers’ money. It would be far less damaging to farmland, to the environment, and to Indianapolis, Bloomington, and other communities.
Momentum against I-69 and in favor of the fiscally and environmentally responsible I-70/ US 41 alternative is growing among an unusual coalition of businesspeople, farmers, conservationists and taxpayers. The Indianapolis Star, Fort Wayne News-Sentinel, Gary Post-Tribune, South Bend Tribune, and Terre Haute Tribune-Star have all editorialized against the proposed new highway and in favor of the I-70/US 41 alternative.
And now Bloomington, the biggest city along the route, has made clear it wants no part of the proposed new I-69. The Bloomington City Council has voted to oppose routing I-69 through Bloomington.
Those who care about Indiana’s agricultural, environmental and economic vitality, about our communities, and about the responsible use of taxpayers’ money should sound their opposition and take action. If they do, the highway can be defeated.