Sierran Masthead

National News Hits Proposed I-69

by Alexander Ewing, Environmental Law and Policy Center

In the third negative national news report on Interstate 69 in six months, ABC-TV World News Tonight recently featured the proposed Evansville-to-Bloomington highway as a waste of tax dollars. NBC Nightly News said the highway would "take you and your tax dollars for a billion-dollar ride." In addition, a front-page article in The Wall Street Journal described I-69 as driven by "politics and money."

Andy Knott, air and energy policy director for the Hoosier Environmental Council and a Hoosier Chapter Executive Committee member, said "The national media spotlight exposes I-69 as an embarrassing pork barrel project. It's time for Gov. O¹Bannon to drop this boondoggle and start looking at less expensive and less destructive alternatives."

The leading alternative is to use existing roadways - upgrading U.S. 41 to an interstate between Evansville and Terre Haute, and connecting to existing I-70 between Terre Haute and Indianapolis.

Farmers, conservationists, taxpayers, and economic development groups oppose the new I-69 because it would cost over $1 billion and destroy more than 3,000 acres of farms and 1,000 acres of forests. I-69 has not yet been funded and is in the planning stages.

The ABC broadcast said Gov. O'Bannon wants to start building the I-69 highway near Evansville, far south of where I-69 now ends in Indianapolis, leaving a gap. "This is an old dodge," the broadcast quoted transportation expert Roy Kienitz as saying. "If you can't convince anyone to give you the money to build the whole thing, build a little piece in the middle and then argue that it makes no sense to have a piece in the middle - now I need more money."

To express your opinion on I-69, write to Gov. O'Bannon, Statehouse, Indianapolis, 46204. The Hoosier Chapter will be sending a survey on I-69 to members affected by the proposed highway routes and will include a reply form for activism.

Copyright © 2007 Hoosier Chapter Sierra Club, all rights reserved.[09/14/02]efp

Fall 1998