The Alternative Route

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Please keep me informed about the I-69 issue and send me occasional updates from the Hoosier Environmental Council. I understand I can opt out any time.

The Alternative: U.S. 41 / I-70

I-70 is a 4-lane divided highway that extends from Indianapolis to Terre Haute. All we need to do is to put up I-69 signs under the existing I-70 signs.

U.S. 41 is a 4-lane highway connecting Terre Haute to Evansville. U.S. 41 can be upgraded to interstate standards with some simple changes like repaving and replacing stoplights with interchanges.

The State Road 641 bypass, connecting U.S. 41 to I-70, is already under construction and will avoid impacts to the commercial/retail development near the current intersection of U.S. 41 and I-70.

The U.S. 41 section of existing roadway is relatively flat terrain, with few environmental or engineering obstacles. On the other hand, the new-terrain route will encounter complex design and engineering problems that cause its price tag to be more than $1 billion more than the U.S. 41/I-70 alternative.

U.S. 41/I-70 will require about 2,500 acres for right of way; by contrast, new-terrain I-69 will consume over 7,000 acres of land for right of way.

The U.S. Department of Interior (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources have agreed that if I-69 is built, the 41/70 route is the environmentally preferred route:

“Alternative 1 would by far have the least impacts to fish and wildlife resources. Relatively little undisturbed land would be affected. From the standpoint of fish and wildlife values, Alternative 1 has the fewest impacts.”
Indiana Department of Natural Resources, July 16, 2002

“Because Alternative 1 would have the least impacts on forests, wetlands, floodplains, rivers listed to the NRI, karst features, water quality, and section 4(f) resources, the Department supports this route as the most environmentally preferable of the build alternatives.”
U.S. Department of Interior, November 14, 2002

“Given the multiplicity and magnitude of environmental impacts, including but not limited to, wetlands, karst, forest and farmland associated with the ‘preferred alternatives’, EPA believes Alternative 1 (i.e., utilize existing U.S. 41/I-70 corridor) is a viable alternative. Alternative 1 has, at least, 2 to 3 times less impact on multiple resources when compared to the ‘preferred alternatives,’ with the lowest construction costs and very low operation and maintenance costs.”
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, November 7, 2002

To connect Evansville to Bloomington requires 90 miles of new 4-lane interstate highway through numerous environmentally sensitive areas and rugged terrain in Greene and Monroe Counties. Tying Bloomington to Indianapolis entails 50 miles of construction to upgrade S.R. 37 to interstate standards. Finally, a completely new mega-interchange would have to be built in Indianapolis to handle the traffic as the new highway T’s into I-465.

Why build an expensive and complicated new highway when the simple, sensible alternative is already halfway completed? It’s not to late to change direction.