Public input wanted on development along I-69 route

If you want to have a say in the type of development that should be allowed near the future Interstate 69 or suggest needed road projects to prepare for added traffic, the county is asking you to come to a meeting this week.

But officials also want you to be aware that the meeting isn’t a place to ask for the interstate not to be built along State Road 37 on the northwest side of the county. That decision already has been made by the state, Johnson County highway department director Luke Mastin said.

Wednesday’s meeting is instead meant to get the community involved in planning for the interstate to come through Johnson County.

On the list of topics to discuss: the type of development that should and should not be allowed along I-69 and traffic concerns — especially along the local routes near the interstate.

Farmland, homes and a few businesses surround the six-mile stretch of State Road 37 that is planned to become the interstate, with exits at County Road 144, Smith Valley Road and County Line Road. Construction of the final I-69 section will begin in Martinsville in 2020 and work its way north through Johnson County to Interstate 465 by 2027, the state has said. Even with the completion of I-69 still almost a decade away, developers will be showing interest in land before then, so the county needs its long-term plan for the area, local officials have said.

County and Bargersville officials have started a development plan and hired a consultant, HWC Engineers, as part of a joint project to create an I-69 Corridor Plan to determine what types of businesses will be allowed along I-69, what construction materials should be used for those buildings, and what improvements will be needed to local roads to accommodate the increase in traffic. This week’s meeting is a part of that planning effort.

By the middle of next year, the county is planning to make updates to its development and road construction plans, which will be used to guide decisions such as zoning or what road projects officials will pursue in coming years. The current plan didn’t take into account the possibility of an interstate cutting through the county and needs to be adjusted for the development I-69 is expected to bring, officials have said.

Traffic flow and access to local roads based on the planned interchanges of I-69 are important topics, Mastin said.

Officials want to know what concerns residents have about the roads in the area, and what potential projects could address those, he said. Officials already have been discussing possible improvements to County Road 144 and Smith Valley, Morgantown and Mullinix roads.

Development also is a key topic, including what should be built around the new interstate. Whatever is built also will have an impact on traffic.

Now that the route has been defined by the state, a process that has taken decades, officials want to start the next steps to prepare for it, including getting the development the community wants, Mastin said.

The interstate also gives the county a chance to better plan for future growth in the White River Township area, an unincorporated part of the county that is home to more than 42,000 residents.

In the past, development happened quickly in that area, and the county wasn’t necessarily ready for that.

“I-69 is like a reset button for that area,” Mastin said.

With the new interstate, the county can now plan ahead for development and land use and make sure standards and guidelines are followed. The county also can identify needed road projects now, and begin working toward getting them done before traffic issues come up.

And officials want to be sure to get feedback from the community so no concerns or issues are missed, he said.

“We can’t go back and get a do-over, but this is a chance for us to have an impact on the future,” Mastin said.

If you go

County officials are hosting a meeting to discuss future development and road improvement plans, traffic concerns and goals for the area along the future Interstate 69 route.

What: Give your feedback on those topics to county officials to be used for future planning.

When: 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday

Where: White River Township library branch, 1664 Library Blvd., Greenwood

Author photo
Annie Goeller is managing editor of the Daily Journal. She can be reached at agoeller@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2718.