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I-69 Section 5 Open House Oct. 29

The public is invited to attend an informational open house regardin I-69 Section from from Bloomington to Martinsville. The event is next week, Wednesday October 29th from from 5:30 pm – 7:30pm at the Holiday Inn, located at 1710 Kinser Pike.

The I-69 Section 5 project involves rehabilitating and upgrading 21 miles of the existing, four-lane State Road 37 to interstate standards. The first phase of the I-69 reconstruction is tied to completion of traffic improvements in Bloomington such as a new interchange at Tapp Road, a third lane in each direction, a new overpass at Rockport Road and changes to That Rd.

There will be no formal presentation regarding the development, but a press release says that the public can comment on the proposed aesthetic treatment concepts .

Daily Local News – June 30, 2014

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Indiana industry dumps more chemicals into our waterways than any other state, however the state official in charge of water management isn’t aware of this pollution; The Monroe County Commission took on noisy I-69 contractors June 27th by passing a stricter noise ordinance; The city of Bloomington is finishing plans to build a short pedestrian trail on the south side of the city.

FEATURE
Governor Pence is hosting a conference to look at Indiana’s tax policies. What is billed as the Indiana Tax Competitiveness and Simplification Conference is billed as a means to get ideas that will make Indiana more competitive. The list of attendees includes tax professionals – tax lawyers, accountants and academics, business and economics academics, representatives from business and business associations, and several former Republican economic and tax policy advisers. Correspondent David Murphy spoke to Bob Ditmer, Director of Public Relations for the Indiana Department of Revenue, which is organizing the event. He first raised the issue of the apparent lack of representation from labor, working people, the poor or other marginalized groups at the conference.

ACTIVATE
We hear about the hoosier hills food bank on Activate, our weekly segment spotlighting people working for positive change in our community.

CREDITS
Anchors: Susan Northleaf, Chris Martin
Today’s headlines were written by David Murphy
Along with Joe Crawford for CATSweek, a partnership with Community Access Television Services.
Our feature was produced by Ilze Ackerbergs, along with correspondent David Murphy
Activate! is produced by Jennifer Whitaker,
Our board engineer and Executive producer is Alycin Bektesh.

I-69 Construction Erosion Problems In Bloomington Go Unanswered From INDOT

Bloomington and Monroe County officials pushed for answers June 13 about erosion problems that have persisted for more than a year along the planned route of Interstate 69.

The policy committee of the Bloomington/Monroe County Metropolitan Planning Organization submitted questions months ago to the Indiana Department of Transportation. They asked about contaminated waterways along section 4 of the interstate, which has been under construction since last year. INDOT sent a written response earlier this month, but committee member Cheryl Munson said it was incomplete.

“I had a number of questions about that response and was disappointed we couldn’t have a discussion with a representative,” Munson says. “The points that bothered me most were the statements INDOT sent rather than answers to questions.”

An INDOT official, Janelle Lemon, was scheduled to respond to the committee’s questions during a presentation May 9. But that presentation never happened.

Committee member Scott Wells said he was disappointed with INDOT’s treatment of the issue. Wells has contended for months the state is not using the right erosion control methods to prevent contamination.

“It’s unfortunate and disconcerting that the people we want to be here aren’t here,” Wells says.

Residents along the path of the interstate have reported erosion problems throughout the state. As construction is set to begin in Bloomington later this summer, mayor Mark Kruzan said he wants to see more details from the state about how they are addressing the problem.

“Is there anything being brought up in writing, verbally, in presentations, emails or meetings, where INDOT looks at this and says, here are things that have been alleged and we think yes this is valid and we’re working on it or no this isn’t us,” Kruzan explains.

Kruzan went on to suggest how the MPO could force the state to listen to the local concerns.

“I don’t think that just because someone doesn’t attend a meeting that they’re guilty of anything,” Kruzan says. “But obviously with this much notice, there’s no reason for them not to be here at the other meeting. If that happens, I certainly will be moving to table all the requests INDOT makes from MPO until we get answers to all of those bullet points that we have.”

Construction on Section 5 of the interstate is expected to begin by September. That section will run from Bloomington to Martinsville.

Community Concerned With I-69 Sediment Erosion

A contractor helping supervise I-69 construction insisted May 9 contractors are doing all they can to prevent pollution from the project. In a presentation to the Bloomington/Monroe County Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Policy Committee, Jeremy Kieffner outlined the various strategies contractors use to prevent erosion. Over the past year waterways near Section 4 of the new interstate have been contaminated with sediments washing away from construction areas.

Kieffner works for the Evansville-based firm, Bernardin, Lochmueller & Associates. He told the group road projects always present erosion issues.

Kieffner did not directly address the erosion issues caused by Interstate 69 and he didn’t take questions from the Committee. After the presentation several committee members said they had doubts the state is following proper procedures with the construction. Committee member Andy Ruff has been a long-time opponent of I-69.

“I worked in battling sediment erosion with construction sites and it’s not an easy law to enforce or follow,” Ruff says.

Ruff said the sediment is probably damaging ecosystems in the waterways near Indian Creek, where some of the most contamination has occurred. Committee member Cheryl Munson, who lives in the Indian Creek area, said problems continue there. Munson said she’s hopeful erosion won’t cause as many problems in Section 5 of the interstate, which runs through Bloomington.

Crews have already begun clearing properties in Section 5 in preparation for construction of the interstate.

Daily Local News – April 16, 2014

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Indiana University announced last week that it is increasing the minimum wage it pays its employees from 7.25 an hour to 8.25 an hour, effective with the start of the new fiscal year on July 1st; The Monroe County Stormwater Management Board split April 10th over how to fund a local conservation group; Local officials questioned a representative from the Indiana Department of Transportation on April 11th about a continuing erosion problem with I-69; Time is running out to find poll workers for the primary election on May 6th.

FEATURE
The closing of Bloomington’s low barrier winter shelter last spring means some of Bloomington’s residents are entering their second summer without a
place to sleep. The local Ubuntu working group was formed last summer in response to this need, and has been advocating for a community response to
homelessness in Bloomington. Within Ubuntu are members of Bloomington’s Catholic Worker community, who reached out to Bloomington residents with a new proposal this week. WFHB Correspondent spoke with Laura Lesuertmer (Les-URT-mer) and Ross Martini Eiler (EYE-ler) about what they have been doing to alleviate homelessness in town.

BLOOMINGTON BEWARE!
Now it’s LIKELY — not just possible — that your identity has been stolen. A data breach involving Experian (the credit-reporting firm), plus the really scary “Heartbleed” problem with overall internet security, have changed everything. Here’s why you need to change ALL your passwords.

CREDITS
Anchors: Lindsey Wright,
Today’s headlines were written by David Murphy, Kelly Wherley
Along with Joe Crawford for CATSweek, in partnership with Community Access Television services.
Bloomington Beware was produced by Richard Fish,
Lauren Glapa produced our feature.
Our engineer today is Jim Lang,
Our theme music is provided by the Impossible Shapes.
Editor is Drew Daudelin, Executive Producer is Alycin Bektesh.

Contractor for I-69 section through Monroe County announced

The Indiana Department of Transportation has announced the winning contractor to finance, build, and maintain section 5 of the new interstate running through Monroe County. Section 5 of I-69 stretches from the south side of Bloomington to Martinsville. Sections 1 through 3, connecting Evansville with the Crane Military base, is complete and in operation. Section 4, from Crane and intersecting with State Road 37 just south of Bloomington, is under construction. The contracting consortium for Section 5 is called I-69 Development Partners. Will Wingfield, from the Office of Communications at the Indiana Department of Transportation, elaborates on the contract.

“The lead company is from Spain and has partnered with local contractors to do the work necessary to build and maintain I-69,” Wingfield says.

Isolux Infrastructures is part of Isolux-Corsan, a multi-national, privately-held company based in Spain, with operations primarily in Latin America but also in the U.S., and several billion euros in annual income. Now Indiana will add to these receipts.

“The private company will finance the product,” Wingfield says, “The idea behind that is that it allows us to do the project more quickly and realize the benefits of it. I know there’s been a concern about safety in Bloomington once I-69 opens and some of those payments are towards overpasses in that area.”

According to the Associated Press the contract for Section 5 stipulates that the state will make an initial $80 million down payment to the contractor and, once complete, pay it $21.8 million a year for 35 years, for a total of $407 million. The estimated cost to the contractor for Section 5 is $325 million. Wingfield did not confirm or deny these figures, but stated that the final terms of the deal are still to be worked out. None of the three sub-contracting firms are based in Bloomington or Martinsville, the anchors of Section 5.

“There were some local companies that submitted proposals, but our reason for a competitive proposal process is to get innovative ideas, the best technical solutions, and of course to get the lowest cost,” Wingfield says, “The highest scoring proposal was the lowest cost proposal that also met all the requests.”

Wingfield says he is unaware of any local companies that may be included in the construction contract. He anticipates that construction on Section 5 of I-69 will begin later this year, and open for traffic by the end of 2016.

Work Begins Soon On New I-69

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.

Daily Local News – January 22, 2014

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The Monroe County Plan Commission approved a letter to federal agencies yesterday, complaining about continued problems with Interstate 69 construction; The superintendent of Richland Bean Blossom School Corporation said yesterday that recent storms won’t force a change to the basic school calendar; The author of an Indiana constitutional amendment to protect hunting and fishing has introduced the proposal this year without language that would also protect farmers; The Indiana State Fire Marshal is asking citizens to exercise caution while using space heaters, wood stoves, fireplaces, and generators during the winter, because of an increased risk of fire.

FEATURE
Freedom Rider Hank Thomas on MLK Day
Hank Thomas overcame an impoverished childhood in southern Georgia and Florida to attend Howard University in Washington, D.C., where he was active in the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee affiliated Non-violent Action Group. After participating in the May 4th CORE Freedom Ride, Thomas returned to the deep south to participate in the May 24th Mississippi Freedom Ride from Montgomery, Alabama to Jackson, Mississippi, and was jailed at Parchman State Prison Farm. After being released on bail, he went on to participate in the July 14th New Jersey to Arkansas CORE Freedom Ride. On August 22nd, 1961, Thomas became the first Freedom Rider to appeal his conviction for breach of peace. He was released on appeal, pending payment of a two thousand dollar bond. Following the Freedom Rides, Thomas served in the Vietnam War, returning home after being wounded in 1966. In recent years, Thomas has owned and operated several hotel and fast food restaurant franchises in the Atlanta metro region. Thomas joined us live in the studio on Monday, before his keynote address at the 2014 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday Celebration, to talk on our weekly program Bring it On. Now, highlights from that conversation for a WFHB feature report.

BLOOMINGTON BEAWRE
our weekly consumer watchdog segment Bloomington Beware!

CREDITS
Anchors: Cathi Norton, Kelly Wherley
Today’s headlines were written by Chelsea Hardy and Norm Holy,
Along with Joe Crawford for CATSweek, in partnership with Community Access Television services.
Bloomington Beware was produced by Richard Fish with correspondent Andrew Huddleston,
Ilze Akerbergs produced our feature.
Our engineer today is Jim Lang,
Our theme music is provided by the Impossible Shapes.
Editor is Drew Daudelin,
Executive Producer is Alycin Bektesh.

Daily Local News – January 9, 2014

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The Indiana Legislature made steps today to progress a marriage amendment that would change the Indiana Constitution to state that only heterosexual couples have marriage rights in Indiana; A statewide rule requiring the drug testing of certain medical patients is at the center of a class action lawsuit filed yesterday; Motorists on State Road 37 will soon begin to see workers cutting down trees, on the twenty-one mile stretch of highway from Bloomington to Martinsville.

FEATURE
WFHB and The Ryder Magazine Present an Interview with Cartoonist Nate Powell
Cartoonist Nate Powell has become one of the most recognized names in the graphic novel industry. Born in Arkansas and eventually making his way to Bloomington, Powell makes stops in New York and other cities operating an indie record label, fronts for a combination punk band and puppet show, and
works with the developmentally disabled. His latest graphic novel, called March: Book One, is the story of civil rights pioneer and Georgia Congressman John Lewis. Powell spoke with correspondent Michael Glab for this feature report, the first of a series jointly produced by WFHB and The Ryder Magazine.

VOICES IN THE STREET
A new year is here, a time for reflection and resolution. How are people in Bloomington resolving to improve themselves and our world? In this special edition of Voices in the Street, WFHB went on-location to local taverns, neighborhood parties, and of course the streets of Bloomington to find all about hopes and dreams for 2014.

CREDITS
Anchors: Carolyn VandeWiele, Scott Weddle
Today’s headlines were written by Alycin Bektesh and Joe Crawford.
Our feature was produced by Michael Glab.
Voices in the Street was produced by Kelly Wherley,
Our engineer is Sarah Hettrick.
Editor is Drew Daudelin,
Executive Producer is Alycin Bektesh.

EcoReport – Sara Beth Klee Mundy: Indiana Fish and Wildlife

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In today’s EcoReport feature, Sara Beth Klee Mundy, a herpetologist with Indiana Fish and Wildlife, talks about efforts to protect Eastern Box Turtles impacted by I-69.

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