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Editorial: I-69 completion project overcoming final hurdles

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The Indiana Department of Transportation says four teams of contractors are competing to build one of the final stretches of Interstate 69 between Evansville and Indianapolis.

As we long have stressed, the roadway is not a matter of getting from the capital city to the Evansville area more quickly. Rather, completion of this stretch of interstate will fuel economic growth along much of its path, in particular allowing a more efficient link between the high-tech Crane area, Bloomington and Indianapolis.

The teams answered Request for Qualifications from the state regarding the construction of I-69 from Bloomington to Martinsville. A Request for Proposals is expected from the state this fall. Connect Indiana Partners, Isolux Infrastructure Netherlands, Plenary Roads Indiana and WM I-69 Partners were selected by the state early this month.

The narrowing of the qualified contractors is another step in the state’s ongoing process of completing I-69. INDOT opened a large stretch of the highway last year before former Gov. Mitch Daniels left office. The whole project is expected to connect central and southwest Indiana.

The completion of the final leg, from Martinsville to Indianapolis, remains elusive, as funding has not been determined. This is the section that will run through the northwestern portion of the Center Grove area.

But completion of the segment through the cities of Bloomington and Martinsville will eliminate most of the stoplights that currently back up traffic now. So even if the final leg is delayed, most traffic won’t be.

We celebrate this latest step as the entire project inches forward. Completion of the next section will have a significant economic and logistic effects.

At the same time, though, we urge the state to move as expeditiously as possible to complete the entire interstate. A lack of definite plans is holding back development of the economic corridor through Johnson County.

Much of the route has been built or is under construction, and most of it is beyond the mere planning stages. Now it is time to complete the job.

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