Tuesday, January 22, 2013
From Thomas and Sandra Tokarski - CARR, Citizens for Appropriate Rural Roads:
The prospects for a completed I-69 are falling apart not only in Indiana but also in Tennessee and possibly in other states.
As this article shows [see Citing Lack of Funds,Tennessee Calls Off $1.5 Billion Highway Project], Tennessee is done with I-69. Neither Kentucky nor Indiana have money to build the new bridge over the Ohio River, and Indiana has run out of money to complete the highway to Indianapolis. It is important to remember that many of the presumed economic benefit of I-69 are based on a completed Canada to Mexico route and, in Indiana, on a completed Evansville to Indy route. Neither route is likely to be completed any time in the near future, if ever.
For years CARR has stated that Indiana does not have the money to complete I-69. But state and federal officials insisted that we were wrong. Well, what do they say now--don't worry we will come up with something; maybe it can be a toll road.
Given this reality, it would be a travesty and an unforgivable shame to clear-cut, blast and bulldoze Section 4 through environmentally sensitive Greene and Monroe Counties when I-69 will never deliver the benefits that have been touted by its supporters. I-69 will never pay for itself. In addition, Indiana is frequently rated among the worst states for various aspects of environmental quality. In the long run building, I-69 will be very harmful to the economy of Indiana as well as to our quality of life. I-69 is fast becoming a monumental boondoggle.
Our state has many more transportation needs and far less destructive ways to spend billions of our tax dollars than continuing to throw scarce money at I-69. A recent report by our colleagues at the Hoosier Environmental Council [ I've uploaded this document to Google Drive - click here] points out that this year Indiana wants to spend 40% of its discretionary funding, $366 million, just on Section 4 of I-69. The total cost of Section 4 is likely to be well over $600 million.This cannot be justified when Indiana is not able to maintain the roads and bridges we already have.
Governor Pence wants to take $347 million from the state's pension fund for transportation and other infrastructure projects. We believe that I-69 is sucking a huge hole in INDOT's budget and is taking funding from other projects across the state. Maybe we can finally agree on one thing--I-69 is not about progress.
When politicians in Tennessee say: "The state wants to build places people want to go to and not just through at high speeds. (emphasis added) they are showing more common sense than Indiana politicians who say: let's continue spending billions of dollars and trash the environment by building I-69 even though we can't maintain the roads we have and don't have the money to finish this one. People hearing this are beginning to look at Indiana and shake their heads in disbelief.
Thank you for your enduring support.
Thomas & Sandra Tokarski