By Tim Maloney
You may have heard that I-69 is a “done deal”. Yes, nearly a billion dollars of public money has been spent or obligated to start construction, but this highway is unlikely to ever be finished.
The I-69 highway from Indianapolis to Evansville is expected to cost about $3 billion but, the only source of funding to pay three-quarters of this amount is the gas tax revenue collected from motor vehicle users. This is the same money used to repair your local streets and bridges, and to maintain state highways and interstates. There’s just not enough to go around. So while Indiana spends billions more than needed on I-69, the state is unable to fix our 4,000 deficient bridges, or help cities and counties reduce the $5.4 billion backlog in repairing city and county roads.
But isn’t I-69 “under budget”?
The state of Indiana set aside $700 million for I-69 from the Indiana Toll Road lease, and said it could build the highway from Evansville to Crane for that amount. So far, though, the state has spent $869 million building this stretch of the highway. Besides construction costs, I-69’s costs also include design, engineering, and right of way costs – expenses which don’t get counted toward the road’s full cost.
It’s time for a new direction – a new route for I-69 which saves tax dollars, conserves our precious farmland and wildlife habitats, and which can actually be completed without serious repercussions for our statewide road and highway system. Learn more at alternativei69.org.