With a proposed route for the final section of Interstate 69 through Johnson County now revealed, residents questioned if enough bridges and interchanges to get on, off and over the new highway were planned.
State officials conducted the first of two public hearing and open house events to give residents the opportunity to ask questions and offer feedback about its most recent plans for the construction of I-69 through Johnson County, which will go along State Road 37 from Martinsville to Interstate 465 in Indianapolis.
At Perry Meridian High School on Thursday evening, residents walked through a gymnasium filled with detailed posters showing the planned route of I-69 and how properties would, or wouldn’t, be impacted.
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The reactions from residents ranged from relief to worry.
For John Steed, a Center Grove area resident and member of Glenns Valley United Methodist Church northwest of the County Line Road and State Road 37 intersection, finally knowing exactly how the proposed interchange at that intersection will work is a relief, even if the highway will require a slice of land from the church.
Steed said he has been diligently following the planning process for I-69, attending meetings and reviewing plans to see how the church would be impacted.
“We just keep getting a little more detail,” he said.
Of the three options the state considered at that intersection, the one they’ve chosen is the best for the church, even though access to the five-decade old building will become more complicated, he said.
While parishioners can currently access the church from State Road 37, once I-69 is built, they will need to connect to an access road, Steed said.
Steed, who is the chairman of the church’s long-range planning committee, said that the church doesn’t have any plans to move.
Residents in the Center Grove area will have access to I-69 on County Road 144, Smith Valley Road and County Line Road, but many said that those three interchanges won’t be enough for a growing area with a population that is only going to further develop once the highway is constructed.
Many of the other east to west roads that connect with State Road 37 will either be turned into dead-ends or be connected to a service road running parallel to the interstate.
Those plans were detailed in a 1,500-page draft environmental impact statement released last month. The state is now getting feedback on the study, which will be finalized at the beginning of 2018. How the 26 miles of new highway will be paid for and when construction will take place hasn’t been determined yet.
For Greenwood resident Julie Boutilier, her concern is the availability of east to west travel.
INDOT is stopping too many streets, creating cul-de-sacs at dead-ends, rather than roads continuing over the interstate, she said.
Boutilier suggested Olive Branch Road as one street that shouldn’t be cut off by I-69.
Indianapolis resident Oscar Kasper, who lives about a half-mile north of County Line Road, echoed those sentiments.
Because of how the Center Grove area is developing, three interchanges won’t be nearly enough to account for future growth, he said.
Some residents, however, think the dead-end roads is the right move.
Paul and Marjorie Russell live at the intersection of Travis and Huggin Hollow roads, which is on the northwest corner of the State Road 37 and County Road 144 intersection.
Because Travis Road is proposed to end in a cul-de-sac, that will reduce the amount of traffic that drives by their home.
Other concerns from residents at the public hearing included the potential cost of the project and whether it would be funded with tolls. Several comments in opposition to the possibility of this last section of I-69 becoming a toll road resulted in applause from the audience.
Here’s how you can look at the entire plan and give feedback:
5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Monday at Martinsville High School, 1360 E. Gray St., Martinsville.
The meeting will include an open house format with a presentation that begins at 6:30 p.m. Public comment will follow.
Read the study: in.gov/indot/projects/i69/2515.htm
Read a printed copy of the study
White River Township branch of the Johnson County Public Library, 1664 Library Boulevard, Greenwood
Send your feedback to the I-69 Section 6 project office, 7847 Waverly Road, Martinsville, IN 46151.
The deadline to offer comments is May 8.