New Indiana I-67 interstate: a boondoggle?

October 29, 2013

Business owners in Indiana and Kentucky are campaigning to build a new interstate, tentatively called the I-67, which would connect with the work-in-progress I-69 near Washington, IN, run south through Jasper and Owensboro, and later link with another highway in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

I-69 in Indiana

A stretch of I-69, which would hook up with I-67 near Washington, IN. By Lordsutch.

The high price tag of highway projects and the low usage of similar highways make it a poor investment, according to critics. The state’s existing interstate, the I-64, is the least-traveled in Indiana, though it connects St. Louis and Louisville. The first segment of the I-69, the most recent highway project, was just completed, and that entire project is estimated to cost $2 to $3 billion by the time it is complete.

Supporters maintain that the road would provide a boon for area businesses. “It would become a hub where you have two interstates meeting and with U.S. 50 being the major east-west route crossing 69 its very positive for Daviess County,” Ron Arnold of the Daviess County Economic Development Corporation told local news station WTHITV.

The proposal has been kicking around for the last few years, and supporters know that they’ll have to wait until I-69 is complete. Yet the coalition of business owners in support of it have already brought their pitch to state government and Washington, D.C. They have also commissioned and presented to the government their own $200,000 study, which found that the new road would host a minimum of 16,000 vehicles a day, and reduce traffic.

Supporters argue that interstates translate into improved commerce and more jobs. As coalition member Hank Menke explained to the Indiana Economic Digest, “Economically this is a huge deal. This is a chance to attract industry, maintain our lifestyle and keep our kids at home.”

Local newspaper, the Evansville Courier Press, had long advocated for the I-69. And the paper is in favor of I-67 as well, editorializing, “The prospects for area Indiana and Kentucky residents and motorists are exciting, just as they were years ago when talks first began on Interstate 69 and the reality that it was a doable project… Indeed, it is a worthy mission.”

Yet critics argue that the expense and the lack of necessity outweigh the coalition members’ fervent support and active lobbying. Even coalition members have admitted that funding may prove a problem, and that they may need to institute tolls. Advocate Menke told local news station WLFI, “We realize right now there is no money to build this road… We’re going to have to be creative.” The interstate would also cut up sections of the state, particularly in two counties, northern Dubois and souther Daviess, which has implications for residents of those areas.

Critics hope that there is yet time for the proposal to be squashed. Sums up transportation critic Aaron M. Renn of the infrastructure blog Urbanophile, “What this actually shows is that for a lot of people, building highways is an end itself. There will never be a day when people aren’t pushing some sort of massive boondoggle.”

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Category: Construction, Infrastructure, News & New Products

About the Author ()

Katy is a writer, reporter and editor who, in addition to writing for RoadTrafficSigns, has worked with the United Nations Development Programme, Hamptons magazine, Hearst Corporation, The Daily Mail, People Magazine, and a variety of other publications and nonprofits. After graduating with honors from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in 2011, and distinctions on her thesis and in the consumer journalism seminar, she moved to Milan, Italy. In Italy, she worked as a writer and consultant for an international magazine, editing and translating text and reporting on such events as the Salone Internazionale del Mobile, the annual design fair. A born and raised New Yorker, she has lived in three of five boroughs, relying quite a bit on public transport until getting her driver's license at the admittedly belated age of 21.

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