Work will begin on the new interstate that will traverse Bloomington and Monroe County as soon as weather allows.
According to Cher Elliott, Indiana Department of Transportation spokesperson at its Vincennes regional office, contractors are to remove trees and other natural obstacles, with attendant remediation, on the right-of-way along section 5 of I-69 before March 31. The section 5 corridor runs from the south, where section 4 of I-69 will intersect with 37 at that road and Fullerton Pike, north to just south of the Highway 39 turn-off near Martinsville.
However, the current tree clearing contract is for the portion from the end of section 4 up to the Walnut Street and Old Highway 37 interchange. The construction phase is slated to begin during late summer of this year, with substantial completion of section 5 by late 2016.
Will Wingfield, at the head office of the Department of Transportation in Indianapolis, said the 21 miles of existing state road 37 will be updated to interstate standards.
“What these changes mean is that traffic entering or exiting will now be on ramps,” Wingfield says, “Four new interchanges will be built. In addition, to provide additional local access, there will be four new exchanges across the interstate.”
For properties that currently have direct access to Highway 37, the department will either purchase them outright or build some other means of vehicular access for them. Wingfield describes lane capacity along various parts of the highway, as it skirts around Bloomington’s west-side.
“There will be added lanes on what is now 37, at the south-end of the project near the Bloomington area based on the forecasted need in urban Bloomington,” Wingfield says
The department has already received proposals from four private sector consortia to design, build, operate, and maintain section 5 of I-69.
INDOT spokespeople have promised that this so-called public-private partnership, or P-3 arrangement for section 5, does not allow the private operator to establish tolls.
“It will generally follow the state road corridor,” Wingfield said, “We are hoping to extend the life of this corridor and road.”
During the construction phase, the route will remain open to public traffic, but with periodic lane closures, delays, and diversions. INDOT and the private sector group responsible for this sector will also be responsible for informing the public of these obstructions.