Just when you think you've heard it all, I-69 supporters, led by the Courier & Press editorial board, draw up another article that makes you shake your head.
This week, the C&P editorial staff released this article...
It seems pretty apparent that I-69 supporters such as the C&P are finally starting to realize that this road isn't as affordable as once believed. I-69 supporters and INDOT refused to listen to organizations such as the Hoosier Environmental Council and Citizens for Appropriate Rural Roads when they said loud and clear that the price tag for this road would be around $3.31 billion, not the billion and change that once was projected.
Not only has the price of I-69 itself risen dramatically, it does not include the price of the new Ohio River bridge which is estimated to be around $1.2-$1.4 billion, it does not include a cost estimate to replace the inferior materials that will need to be replaced in a shorter time span, and it does not include price estimates to put the interchanges in that will need to be eliminated. This road will come very close to costing $5 billion.
The ironic thing about this article where the C&P finally admits that this road may be too costly to build in the next few years, is that it comes just a few months after they wrote this article about high speed rail...
In that article, the C&P claimed that high speed rail is not an alternative to highways due to their high costs. This couldn't be any farther from the truth. In fact, high speed rail on average costs 1/4th the price of interstates ( http://www.indianahighspeedrail.org/whyHSR.htm ). Now we are seeing the truth that I-69 is NOT cost effective.
While southwestern Indiana has fallen 60 years behind trying to build an interstate from the 20th century, the rest of the region around us has begun planning for high speed rail...
Why didn't we see that in the C&P? All across the U.S, state governments are realizing the benefits of high speed rail, Virginia being one of them...
I-69 supporters have gotten so desperate to deny the environmental impact of this interstate that they are now claiming the Muscatatuck Bottoms and Wabash River & Sugar Creek conservation projects are being undertaken to offset the impact of I-69...
Once more, this article couldn't be any farther from the truth. Those two areas that the Courier & Press brought up as areas that are being reforested from I-69’s damage, well...
1. They are NOWHERE NEAR the proposed I-69
http://www.in.gov/dnr/files/MuscatatuckRiverFacts.pdf (Page 2)
2. The Wabash River and Sugar Creek replanting is right next to…. you got it… the 41/I-70 corridor… NOT the I-69 corridor.
How they can claim this is being done to mitigate the environmental disaster I-69 will cause I will never know. I could just as easily claim that these two projects are being undertaken to offset the trees lost to print off that editorial.
The last part on the DNR's website sums it up best...
Q. If I decide not to sell, will you take my land?
A. No. This program is for willing sellers only. DNR will not use eminent domain to take land. You do not have to sell if you choose not to.
In other words, this program is completely volunteer, not a state mandate to offset the environmental damage I-69 will cause.
Lastly, if the I-69 supporters would have just been realistic with their interstate demands, we could be doing both high speed rail and upgrading 41/ I-70. For those who say we need a route to Bloomington regardless, we could have used Alternate Routes 2 or 4 to the existing Alternate Route 3 which would have gone from an upgraded 41 in Vincennes over to Bloomington along state roads 67 and 231 which would have greatly reduced the land needed for new terrain...
Unfortunately, I-69 and it's supporters are taking us back to the 50's. It will be many years, if ever, before funding is ever obtained for I-69. In the meantime, other states and regions are getting even farther ahead of us in the race to build high speed rail. It's time to get serious about 21st century transportation.
As always, high speed rail would be cheaper, faster, greener, cleaner, and most importantly SAFER! Call your elected officials and tell them to scrap I-69. We need rails not roads!