Fate unknown

The exact path of the new Interstate 69, and where it will inch west or edge east, won’t be known for years, but residents are starting to get more clues that will help them decipher how their homes and property will be affected.

From Martinsville to Indianapolis, the interstate, which will be built from State Road 37, will have anywhere from four to eight lanes, and need approximately 400 feet of right-of-way — or 200 feet on each side.

But residents remain worried about the unknowns, such as the exact footprint of the new interstate, how already busy roads will handle additional traffic from new new interchanges and whether the state will need to buy their home. The latest estimate shows that 38 to 68 Johnson County homes will need to come down, 127 to 155 acres of farmland will be impacted and about 20 businesses will need to be relocated.

Last week, the state announced that State Road 37, from Martinsville to Interstate 465, was the most logical route for I-69, which will eventually connect Evansville to Indianapolis.

Officials with the Indiana Department of Transportation answered questions and comments from residents, commuters and business owners this week during two public meetings in Indianapolis and Martinsville. The state provided updated maps, timelines and possible changes to intersections along State Road 37.

Residents who live along the highway are wondering if or how they’ll be affected by the new interstate.

“It’s one of those things where they’ve been talking about it for years, but there’s nothing that we can do about it. We just have to play the waiting game,” Perry Township resident Terri Miller said.

Terri and her husband, Brian Miller, just built a $50,000 home addition, including a sun room and patio, so they could enjoy their backyard. But plans show their backyard will now be the interstate, they said.

“I don’t want it in my backyard. If it’s going to be in my backyard, then just take the house,” Terri Miller said.

Based on the initial maps from INDOT, their home is not at risk of being purchased by the state, but the Millers are worried about their property value dropping, and if they’ll ever be able to sell their home, with an interstate next door.

“We’re not going to lose the house, we’re just going to lose every piece of value we have in it,” Brian Miller said. “Who wants to buy a house that backs right up, literally, to the interstate?”

The Millers and others who live near State Road 37 won’t know which properties may be needed for I-69 until 2018, INDOT Section 6 project manager Jim Earl said.

“We understand your anxiety,” Earl said. “Unfortunately, we’re not to a point where we can provide a lot of concrete answers at this point in time. The best we can do is tell you when we anticipate having those answers for you.”

Residents whose property lines are at least 500 feet off State Road 37 are most likely safe from the state needing to purchase a sliver of their land or their entire property, he said.

Currently, the state owns about 250 to 350 feet of land off of State Road 37, Earl said. But for I-69, the state needs an estimated 400 feet of land, or 200 feet on either side of the interstate, he said. The exact mapping for the route has not been determined yet, but residents who live about 500 feet off of State Road 37 can likely breathe a sigh of relief, Earl said.

“We’re not talking about 2,000-feet shifts one way or the other. It’s going along 37,” Earl said. “So if you live, I would say, 500 feet outside of this corridor, you’re likely safe.”

But the route could shift east or west, depending on properties the state will want to avoid purchasing or tearing down. For example, if the route would mean tearing down a historical or public safety structure, then the interstate could be shifted to avoid those properties. Off of Smith Valley Road, the White River Township Fire Department has a fire station that could need to move.

The state has three proposed routes for how the interstate will align with State Road 37, which includes different types of interchanges, overpasses, underpasses and land needed on either side of the highway. The state’s proposed route for the interstate is expected to be ready next year, and officials are currently seeking public input on the different alignments being considered.

Residents won’t get an offer for their property until 2018, once the federal government approves the Section 6 route, Earl said.

Some residents said they don’t want to wait another two years to find out their fate.

Business owner Troy Smith has two industrial buildings near the intersection of State Road 37 and Banta Road in Marion County.

“I’ve been in limbo for the last 10 years since this all came out, now you want me in limbo for another two years? I’ve got to move, I’ve got to make things happen,” Smith said.

When looking at the three proposed routes along State Road 37, residents in the Perry Commons neighborhood were concerned about their property values and more traffic on Southport Road.

“I think my blood pressure just went up,” resident Peggy Dufek said. “I was going to re-finance (my house), actually, this week.”

With nothing officially decided, residents are nervous, said Carolyn DeAngelis, who lives in the Arbors on Bluff subdivision in Perry Township.

“The scary part to people is not knowing where exactly or how it impacts them,” DeAngelis said. “We can look at the maps, but we don’t know exactly what’s going to happen.”

Pull Quote

“We’re not talking about 2,000-feet shifts one way or the other. It’s going along 37. So if you live, I would say, 500 feet outside of this corridor, you’re likely safe.” –Jim Earl, INDOT project manager for section 6

The number of lanes on I-69

Officials from the Indiana Department of Transportation shared how many lanes are anticipated for each segment of Interstate 69. Here’s a look at how many lanes could be in each section:

From Indian Creek to County Road 144: 2 lanes each direction

From County Road 144 to Southport Road: 3 lanes each direction

From Southport Road to Interstate-465: 4 lanes each direction

SOURCE: Indiana Department of Transportation

Timeline for Interstate 69

Here is the latest timeline for Interstate 69:

October 2014: The state had 27 alternatives for section 6 of I-69

May 2015:  The state whittled the options to 14 alternatives

June 2015: Five alternatives selected

March 2016: State Road 37 selected

First quarter, 2017: Draft of I-69 corridor for section 6 will be released, which includes where interchanges, overpasses and underpasses will be located

First quarter, 2018: A federal board will approve the route, then Indiana Department of Transportation can start land acquisition

Source: Indiana Department of Transportation

Got comments?

The Indiana Department of Transportation wants your feedback. Comments about the three different alignments will be accepted until April 29. Comment by:

Emailing the project office at section6pm@indot.in.gov

Call the project office at 317-881-6408

Stop by the Section 6 project office at 7847 Waverly Road, Martinsville. The office is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

I-69 tidbits

Here is a look at studies the state has done so far on the proposed route of Interstate 69 and its impacts:

500-feet rule

Currently, the state owns land about 250 to 350 feet off of State Road 37. For Interstate 69, the state needs about 400 feet, or 200 feet on each side of the interstate. That means that property owners at least 500 feet off State Road 37 are most likely safe from the state needing to purchase a sliver of land or their entire property.

Land impacted

Banta to Fairview roads

Agricultural: 39 to 56 acres

Forest: 3 to 6 acres

Fairview to Wicker roads

Agricultural: 39 to 40 acres

Forest: 1 acre

Land owned by churches affected

Banta to Fairview roads: 5 to 6 acres

Fairview to Wicker roads: 2 to 3 acres

Expected traffic

By 2045, state officials expect about 65,000 to 70,000 vehicles per day to use the six-lane interstate from Smith Valley Road to County Line Road. At Southport Road and further north, an eight-lane interstate would be needed to accommodate about 95,000 cars per day.

Why this route?

The four other routes that were considered were either more costly, with no notable advantages in performance or environmental impact, or cost about the same and had a similar environmental impact with lower performance. This path will cut the number of accidents in the counties affected by 1,379 each year, reduce travel times from Martinsville to downtown Indianapolis by 11 minutes, increase wages in the four-county study area by a total of $1.7 billion over 20 years and will increase gross domestic product in the four-county study area by $2.4 billion over 20 years.

What’s left to decide?

Nearly 5-mile stretch from Banta Road to Fairview Road: What type of interchanges to use at County Road 144 and Smith Valley Road; whether to build local service roads or overpasses at Stones Crossing, Olive Branch and Fairview roads.

About 1.5 miles from Fairview Road to Wicker Road: What type of interchange to build at County Line Road; how to align local service roads between Fairview and Wicker roads.

2.2 miles from Wicker to Banta roads: What type of interchange to use at Southport Road, trail and bicycle routes along Southport Road.

Olive Branch Road: Two designs call for closing Olive Branch Road at Interstate 69 and reconnecting Old State Road 37 through a neighborhood just north of Stones Crossing, or providing access to properties west of the interstate by building a continuous service road from County Road 144 to County Line Road. An overpass is also a possibility.

Smith Valley Road: A traditional diamond or a diverging diamond interchange is recommended. One proposal calls for shifting the interstate slightly west of State Road 37 in this area and building a retaining wall to allow the White River Township Fire Department to continue to operate its nearby station. The fire station driveway would need to be reconfigured to exit onto Mullinix Road, but that could be too close to an interstate ramp and not an ideal traffic situation. Another plan calls for the location to be closed.