Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels was joined by federal, state and local officials to officially open the first three sections of the new I-69 corridor in southwest Indiana. The new corridor covers a 67-mile stretch that comprises what has been the longest contiguous new interstate construction project in the U.S. The interstate will open to traffic by 6 p.m. ET today, in time for the Thanksgiving travel holiday.
“Many people said this interstate expansion wouldn’t happen in their lifetime, but it’s here,” said Gov. Daniels. “In addition to opening the road ahead of schedule and under budget, we’re opening greater economic opportunity, faster and safer travel and improved connectivity.”
According to public filings, the new I-69 corridor is opening several years ahead of schedule and nearly $80 million under budget in construction costs alone. When total project costs are factored, the corridor is opening more than $300 million under estimates.
In addition to project cost savings, the new corridor also delivers significantly reduced travel times. According to a new study from the Joint Transportation Research Program at Purdue University, the 67-mile alignment provides a 38-minute reduction in one-way travel time between Evansville and Naval Support Activity (NSA) Crane compared with alternate routes.
“One of the key benefits of the new corridor is that it provides greater connectivity to important areas of the state that have been historically underserved,” said Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) Commissioner Michael B. Cline. “I-69 will significantly reduce travel times and provide residents across southwest Indiana with improved access to jobs, education and healthcare.”
“The new I-69 allows for safer and more efficient travel to and from the Crane Base for many of the more than 5,000 employees, contractors, customers and stakeholders who access the base on a daily basis,” said Cmdr. James M. Stewart, commanding officer of NSA Crane. “The interstate also improves material movement to and from the base and provides an opportunity to increase commerce across the region.”
In 2006, Gov. Daniels outlined a bold proposal—known as Major Moves—that involved leasing the Indiana Toll Road. Funds generated from that innovative plan allowed—as part of a funded statewide highway plan—construction to begin on the new I-69 corridor, which will ultimately stretch from Evansville to Indianapolis through Bloomington. The initial 67-mile section connects communities from just northeast of Evansville at I-64 to the U.S. 231 interchange near the Naval Support Activity at Crane.
“The opening of the new I-69 extension is a real game changer that benefits our state’s economy by making Indiana a more viable hub for commerce through enhanced transportation capabilities,” said Kevin Brinegar, president and CEO of the Indiana Chamber. “Communities along the corridor will see long-desired benefits from increased business investment.”