Public feedback, computer input

Aug. 19, 2002

The purpose of the I-69 project is to build a continuous highway link designed to interstate highway standards from the Mexican border to the Canadian border, a route length of approximately 1,650 miles. Throughout its length, I-69 would connect 16 existing interstate highways (10 east-west routes and six north-south routes).

The purpose of the I-69 project is to build a continuous highway link designed to interstate highway standards from the Mexican border to the Canadian border, a route length of approximately 1,650 miles. Throughout its length, I-69 would connect 16 existing interstate highways (10 east-west routes and six north-south routes). Within urban areas, development of I-69 could provide the means to upgrade existing interstate routes, connect major transportation corridors and radial freeways with a new facility and connect modal and multi-modal terminals to the interstate highway network.

Parts of Indiana

As you might expect with a project over 1,650 miles in length, sections of the vast transportation route are in various stages of study, design and construction. One large segment is a 140- to 160-mile portion from Evansville to Indianapolis, Ind.

Announced by the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) in December of 1999, an Environmental Impact Study affecting 26 counties was initiated to look at a broad range of alternatives for constructing this major transportation project.

Bernardin, Lochmueller & Associates Inc. (BLA) of Evansville was selected to undertake this study as the prime contractor for INDOT, overseeing a team of 12 subconsultants.

The scope of this single project segment is staggering. It will cost an estimated $9 million just to complete the study for this Indiana section. A great deal of the information required to complete the study is contained in over 170 layers of geographic information system (GIS). The construction costs for the various alternatives under consideration for this project segment range from $800 million to over $1.7 billion.

On Oct. 16, 2001, INDOT announced and presented the Draft Level 2 Alternative Analysis Report. This report is a compilation of transportation benefits, estimated construction costs and economic benefits on 14 alternative routes that were initially identified for the 140- to 160-mile segment of I-69.

As part of the environmental analysis, a GIS was developed with different layers of information. The GIS is used to identify known geological, ecological, historical and public concern sites. Throughout this process, the general public has had the opportunity to fully participate in the study, with over 3,000 people attending various public information meetings and over 500 providing comments at the meetings. In addition, the project website has received over 500 messages.

Taking five

The scope of services completed by BLA to get to this point included, among other things, long-range traffic forecasts, preliminary route corridor locations, evaluation of preliminary routes for performance on transportation and economic performance measures, interagency coordination, environmental data collection, field investigations and major public presentations.

Based upon analysis of the diverse characteristics of the 14 alternatives and the substantial input from the numerous public meetings held throughout the state, BLA submitted the Alternative Analysis Report to INDOT. As a result, INDOT narrowed the 14 available options to five alternative routes that will receive further detailed environmental analysis.

With the Alternative Analysis Report narrowing the possible route to five alternatives, level three of the Environmental Impact Statement is now under way. Brian Litherland, P.E., manager of highway design for BLA, has already begun the research and data gathering that will go into the next phase.

“We need to generate an engineering profile for the various alternatives on this project,” explained Litherland. “We already have 171 layers of GIS in ESRI’s software. We are also digitizing USGS’ GIS maps. Using Eagle Point software modules, we designed the profiles for each alternative.”

Combining the various technologies and digital formats has been a rewarding challenge for Litherland.

“Our staff has attended training on various aspects of the software we are using. Eagle Point has conducted specialized implementation and training courses at our facility to help us manage and analyze all of this data,” he said.

While Litherland has used the software for seven years, he requested further training from Eagle Point.

“Coordinating the planning and process for the 50-plus people that are working on this project was essential,” said Litherland.

Early in the project, Eagle Point’s Drew Leino, E.I.T., and Steven Goodrich, P.E., traveled to BLA’s Indiana office on separate occasions to provide training specific to the tasks and needs in the I-69 project. The training courses allowed Litherland to coordinate the CAD standards they were using and to more efficiently take advantage of various enhancements, making the design and analysis process faster and more accurate. BLA is utilizing nine Eagle Point modules with AutoCAD 2000.

“We completed all of the alignment development and control in Eagle Point,” Litherland explained. “Within about five months, we completed the mapping, terrain analysis and determined the various route combinations that made the most sense. Then we took this information and placed it in layers in ESRI’s GIS products.”

The next milestone will be the publication of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement. The selection of a preferred corridor is slated for completion in late 2002.

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