A southside resident has known for years that he would someday lose his home to the development of Interstate 69.
But James Wyrick had been holding out hope that a commercial developer would want to buy his property near County Line Road and State Road 37, instead of the state. That way, he may actually make money off having to sell his home and move elsewhere, he said.
After the state announced State Road 37 as the official route of I-69 and has been putting out information about the approximate path the interstate could take, Wyrick said he thinks that is unlikely.
Wyrick joined hundreds of residents who came to a meeting the Indiana Department of Transportation hosted at Perry Meridian High School on Monday night.
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State officials decided to host the open house meeting to try to give as much information to property owners as possible, since they have gotten multiple questions after announcing the route of the interstate earlier this year, state department of transportation spokesman Will Wingfield said.
The state still is studying the route of the interstate and won’t be releasing specific details until the spring. But before then, the state wanted to be able to answer as many questions as possible, including their process of buying land, how creeks, streams and other environmental issues will be handled by the state, and how businesses or homeowners will be relocated, Wingfield said.
“We wanted to give as much information as we could at this stage, to reassure property owners so they are not nervous about the process,” Wingfield said.
Residents said they have expected that I-69 was going to follow State Road 37 for years, but now they want to know more details about how they will be affected.
Wyrick doesn’t mind moving, especially with the traffic that the interstate will bring to the already busy area along County Line Road and State Road 37. He moved to his home about 20 years ago and now struggles to get out of his driveway.
“State Road 37 is getting to be a zoo, County Line Road is definitely a zoo,” he said.
But he does want a fair price for his home. His insurance agent has already told him rebuilding his home would be very expensive, since it is made of brick and stone, and he thinks that should be considered by the state when they make him an offer, he said.
“My concern is how bad am I going to get nicked on that, I don’t know, but I doubt I will come out on top,” Wyrick said.
Brian and Terri Miller already know how the future interstate will impact their home’s value. A recent appraisal of their home in Perry Commons, near State Road 37 and Southport Road, listed the value of the home slightly more than what they paid for it 20 years ago — even after they added a $50,000 addition.
“We have no option to sell, because we could never recover what we put into it,” Brian Miller said.
The couple also is concerned about the state’s plan to reroute traffic from a nearby apartment complex into their neighborhood. Their homeowners association takes responsibility for the roads, collecting money to plow and pave them for the 120 homes there. And with more traffic, that will mean residents will need to pay more for maintenance, they said.
The couple raised that concern to state officials, who said they needed to know that information when considering the route the interstate should take. The Millers hope it will be considered.
Other residents came to the meeting just to see if more information was available.
Dick Chew, who lives in the Center Grove area, isn’t impacted by the interstate, but land his family has owned for 200 years near Wicker Road and State Road 37 is impacted. An access road also is planned near his cousin’s property, he said. He was initially concerned that a house built by his relatives in the 1850s could be torn down, but that doesn’t appear likely, he said.
But he lives near Smith Valley Road, which is planned as an interchange off I-69, and he knows that area will be changed as more development occurs. He is expecting once the interstate is built, Smith Valley Road will grow with commercial development from there to State Road 135, he said.
Rick Underwood said he has been waiting for I-69 to be built along State Road 37, since that is the only route that makes sense. He has been getting notices from the state about the project for years.
He owns two properties near County Line Road that will be impacted by the interstate, so he likes to attend the state’s meetings to see what, if any, new information is available, he said.
The interstate will make the area easier to get around, with interchanges instead of intersections, he said. And he is excited about the future development that is expected to come to the area with the interstate, especially after seeing what has happened in areas further south where I-69 has already been built, he said.
“The economic impact, it will be more than just gas stations, it will be more development and jobs,” he said.
What’s next with I-69:
Spring 2017: Indiana Department of Transportation will announce the preferred route between Martinsville and Indianapolis, including where interchanges will be, which roads along State Road 37 will become dead ends and where overpasses or underpasses will be, and will accept public feedback.
First quarter of 2018: The final route of Section 6 will be announced by the state
Later in 2018: The federal government will vote on the official route of Section 6
TBD: When construction of Section 6 will begin
Source: The Indiana Department of Transportation