On Friday, the Hoosier Environmental Council filed a request for administrative review with the Natural Resources Commission seeking to overturn a Department of Natural Resources permit issued for the I-69 Evansville to Indianapolis highway project. The permit authorizes the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) to build a four-lane bridge and place fill material in the floodway where the proposed highway would cross the East Fork White River at the border of Pike and Daviess Counties, near Washington. The fill material will be used to construct a 25 foot tall, two mile long roadway embankment through the floodway.
The planned bridge only spans 1/6th of the floodway and the remaining portion will be dammed with fill material. If INDOT is allowed to proceed with the project as described in the permit, the bridge and embankment will raise floodwaters by up to a foot on nearly six thousand acres of productive farmland.
This permit is indicative of the entire I-69 project. The state does not have enough money to build this highway as promised, so now it is cutting corners. Unfortunately, those savings come at the expense of the men and women who make a living farming those river bottoms. Moreover, the highway will harm a diverse river system which has been designated an Outstanding River for the State of Indiana.
Our thanks go out to some of the affected farmers and HEC members helping with this suit – Jim and Jane Gillooly, Nancy Grannan, and Robert Wildman. We also appreciate the work of David Van Gilder, a Ft. Wayne attorney and HEC board member, who is representing HEC and the landowners in this action.