Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke and Henderson Mayor Steve Austin helped to officially open I-69 Ohio River Crossing (ORX) project offices on their respective sides of the river today. One project office is open each weekday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., and by appointment.
The Evansville project office is located at 320 Eagle Crest Dr., Ste. C, and is open Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. The Henderson office is located at 1970 Barrett Ct., Ste. 100, and is open Wednesday and Friday. Both offices house copies of maps and other project materials. Both locations offer members of the public a place to ask project questions and offer comments.
“The project offices are a visual reminder that we’re on the right track and on the way to completing this important connection between our two cities,” said Mayor Winnecke. “A new I-69 bridge is vitally important to Evansville, Henderson and beyond. I-69 is not complete until we can connect with our neighbors in Kentucky.”
On June 30, 2016, then-Indiana Gov. Mike Pence and Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin signed a memorandum of understanding directing both states to develop a federally-required Environmental Impact Statement for an I-69 Ohio River Crossing. The study is expected to take 2-3 years to complete, and will identify the route, bridge location and financing solutions for a new I-69 Ohio River Crossing.
“This community has been talking about the importance of an I-69 Ohio River Crossing for years now,” said Mayor Austin. “To stand in front of this project office and say it’s officially open for business is a day for celebration. Work is underway that will lead us to a much-needed interstate connection between Henderson and Evansville.”
The I-69 ORX Project Team held open houses in April, one in Evansville and one in Henderson. An overview of the project was provided, and five broad corridors for the possible location of a new I-69 Ohio River Crossing were unveiled.
“We’ve been busy since then, listening to members of the public and a variety of stakeholders,” said Janelle Lemon, Indiana Department of Transportation project manager. “Public involvement is a significant part of the process, and will help guide the decisions we’re making.”
Ribbon cutting ceremonies marked the official opening of the two project offices, but doors have been open since the April open houses. Members of the public can also call, email or visit the project website for more information or to share comments.
Short List of Alternatives Expected Soon
In addition to gathering public input, the Project Team has been gathering data about the five corridors. A wide variety of information is being collected, including where homes and businesses are located, along with identifying historic structures and potential environmental impacts for each corridor. The team is also examining potential construction costs and expected operations and maintenance costs.
“The screening process is extensive,” said Marshall Carrier, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet project manager. “All of the data is considered, along with feedback from the public and stakeholders, to make informed decisions on what corridors make the most sense to study further. We should have a short list of alternatives later in July.”
The short list of alternatives is expected in mid to late July. Open houses are expected to be held on both sides of the river in late July and early August to gather additional feedback from the public. More detailed data collection and engineering analyses for the short list of alternatives will follow.
The goal is to have a recommendation for a preferred alternative by fall of 2018 and a Record of Decision (ROD) by late 2019. The ROD allows the states, with the help of available federal funds, to move forward with design, land purchases and construction.