Frequently Asked Questions

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Project History

1. Why did INDOT decide to conduct this new study?

2. How is this study different from the Donahue Study?

3. How is this study different from the 1996 Draft EIS for the Southwest Indiana Highway Project?

Study Process

1. Why has a "tiered" process been adopted? How will it work?

2. What will be decided in Tier 1?

3. What is the Purpose and Need Statement?

4.  How will the Tier 1 EIS address the "purpose and need" for this project?

5.  How does "Purpose and Need" affect the study?

6.  What alternatives will be considered in the Tier 1 EIS?

7. Will all of the route concepts (such as those released on December 1, 2000) be given the same level of considerations? Are some treated less seriously than others?

8.  How will the Tier 1 EIS Evaluate the environmental and other impacts of the various alternatives? Will their be enough detail to make an informed comparison?

9.  Why will this study take so long? Why did  it take until late 2003 to make a recommendation?

10.  When can construction begin?

11.  When would a part of the highway actually open?

12. What will happen in Tier 2?

13. What is the "no build" alternative?

14.  Is this just a highway study? What about other modes of transportation?

15. What is a "record of decision?"

16. What are the "sections" for the preferred?

17. What is the difference between a public meeting and a public hearing?

18. What is the Section 106 process and how can interested citizens participate in it?

19. Why was the Preferred Corridor for I-69 announced months in advance of issuing the Final Environmental Impact Statement? Isnít this "jumping the gun?"

Study Issues

1.  Why spend all this money just to shorten travel time by 30 minutes from Indianapolis to Evansville?

2. Is the road going to go where the numbers say it should go, or will the decision be based on other factors?

3. What will you do if citizens along a particular route object to I-69 passing through their area?

4. If a region or area indicates in public hearings that they want the route to come near or through their area, are they more liekly to get the highway in their area?

5.  I've heard a lot of talk about "I-69 Direct." When people say they are in favor on "I-69 Direct," to which of the 14 route proposals are they referring?

Impacts

1. Would a route other than an upgrade of US-41 and I-70 have an adverse economic effect on Terre Haute, Vincennes and other communities along US-41?

2.  How do you respond to critics who complain about the loss of up to 5,000 acres of prime farmland?

3. Does the study place a high priority on farmland preservation, or is farmland simply an inexpensive and easy way to acquire right-of-way?

4. Along with the prime farmland taken to build a highway, what can you tell us about secondary impacts to the land and the environment from a new route?

5. What other secondary impacts of i_69 are of concern?

6. Could the results of the Vanderburg County South I-69 Study affect the outcome of the S.W. Indiana I-69 EIS?

7. After seeing the 14 preliminary route concepts released on December 1, 2000, I wonder if I-69 will go near the cemetery in our town, will you work around the cemetery or will you uproot the graves? This is of great concern to us because many in our family are buried there. 

8.How will the possible extension of I-69 from Evansville to Indianapolis affect on I-465 around Indianapolis?

 

Funding / Legislative Issues

1. Have IDOT and FHWA determined that federal law allows I-69 to be built somewhere other than via Bloomington?

2. What is the legally designated route for corridor 18 in Indiana? How can the legally designated route be modified? Is it necessary for the Tier 1 EIS to consider alternatives that do not follow the legally designated route?

3. Has Congress provided funding that can only be used for a route passing through Bloomington?

4. How much federal funding is currently available to study, design, and construct Corridor 18 between Evansville and Indianapolis? Can these funds be used if a non-Bloomington route is selected for Corridor 18?

5. Does the State have enough money to build the Highway?

6. How much of the funding to build a highway could come from the federal government and how much from the state?

7. Would other regions of the state suffer from lack of highway funding if and when I-69 gets built?

8. Illinois is now represented on the National I-69 Steering Committee. Does Indiana face losing I-69 to Illinois?

 

Public Involvement

1. Could you please send me a printed copy of study reports, such as the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) issued July 31, 2002?

 

PROJECT HISTORY

1. Why did INDOT decide to conduct this new study? <<back>>
This study grows out of several previous studies that examined various aspects of the proposed Evansville-to-Indianapolis highway. While technically sound, those previous studies were limited in scope and depth, and therefore did not resolve the long-running debate over whether to construct a new Evansville-to-Indianapolis highway. As a result, INDOT decided in November 1998 to commence the preparation of a new study that would thoroughly and objectively examine the full range of alternatives for connecting Evansville and Indianapolis. (Updated 3/10/00)

2. How is this study different from the Donahue Study? <<back>>
In 1990, Donahue Associates, consultants retained by the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) completed a broad, planning-level study that evaluated a range of alternatives for completing an Evansville-to-Indianapolis highway. This study, which has become known as the Donahue Study, focused primarily on analyzing the economic benefit/cost ratio of various corridors between Evansville and Indianapolis. The study briefly considered the environmental and social impacts of the various corridors, but specifically noted that a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) would be needed. The Donahue Study did not recommend construction of any corridor, but identified the Evansville-to-Bloomington-to-Indianapolis route as the alternative with the greatest potential viability from a benefit/cost standpoint. (Updated 3/10/00)

3. How is this study different from the 1996 Draft EIS for the Southwest Indiana Highway Project? <<back>>
In 1996, INDOT and the Federal Highway Administration issued a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the proposed Southwest Indiana Highway Project B a proposed four-lane highway connecting Evansville and Bloomington. Unlike the Donahue Study, the 1996 DEIS contained a full-scale analysis of environmental impacts. However, the study focused solely on alternatives for connecting Evansville and Bloomington; it did not look at the Evansville-to-Indianapolis corridor as a whole. After the 1996 DEIS was issued, FHWA and INDOT received many comments from the public as well as consulting agencies, both state and federal. Some of these comments were critical of the decision to limit the scope of that study solely to the evaluation of alternatives for completing an Evansville-to-Bloomington highway; these commenters argued that the scope of the study should be expanded to focus on alternatives for completing an Evansville-to-Indianapolis highway, including alternatives (such as improving US 41 and I-70) that did not go through Bloomington.

After considering the comments on the 1996 DEIS, then-Commissioner of INDOT Curt Wiley decided to initiate an expanded study that would consider the entire Evansville-to-Indianapolis route as part of a single environmental impact statement. The Commissioner stated that, as part of the new study, INDOT would specifically consider the US 41/I-70 alternative, as well as other alternatives for connecting Evansville and Indianapolis. Following that decision, the FHWA and INDOT decided to withdraw the 1996 DEIS and initiate this study as an entirely new undertaking, which will involve a comprehensive examination of all reasonable alternatives for connecting Evansville to Indianapolis. 
(Updated 3/10/00)

STUDY PROCESS

1. Why has a "tiered" process been adopted? How will it work? <<back>>
The decision to prepare an EIS that examines a full range of alternative corridors between Evansville and Indianapolis presented INDOT and FHWA with a unique challenge undertaking a comprehensive environmental study of several corridors ranging from 140-160 miles in length, which are located across a study area that includes virtually all of Southwest Indiana. To meet this challenge, INDOT and FHWA have adopted a "tiered" study process, which is specifically authorized under the federal regulations governing environmental impact statements. This process involves two stages: (1) Tier 1, which analyzes the need for the project and a broad range of potential corridors; and (2) Tier 2, which will involve more detailed studies that will determine specific alignments and mitigation measures for the project. This tiered study process is appropriate for this project because of the sheer size of the study area and the range of alternatives that are being considered. This is one of the largest transportation studies for which an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) has been written. With a project of this scale, a traditional (non-tiered) EIS easily could become so large and complex that it would not provide a useful decision-making tool for government officials or for the public at large. By contrast, the tiered approach is intended to promote informed decision-making and effective public involvement by making it easier for all participants in the process to focus on the critical issues at each stage and to understand the facts that are relevant to those issues. (Updated 1/16/03)

2. What will be decided in Tier 1? <<back>>
Tier 1 involves the preparation of an EIS for the entire Evansville-to-Indianapolis corridor. The Tier 1 EIS, which has been issued as a Draft EIS, addresses "big picture" planning issues such as purpose-and-need, build versus no-build, preferred corridor, and logical termini for individual sections within the preferred corridor (if a "build" alternative is selected). At the end of the first tier, a Record of Decision (ROD) will be issued on the preferred mode and corridor (or selecting the no-build alternative). If the Tier 1 ROD approves an alternative that involves the construction and/or upgrade of a particular corridor, it will also identify sections within that corridor that have "independent utility." Each section could then be the subject of a separate study in Tier 2. (See below for additional details regarding Tier 2.) (Updated 1/16/03)

3. What is the "Purpose and Need Statement"? <<back>>
The Purpose and Need statement is the foundation of any environmental impact statement. It lays out the goals of the project, the supportive documentation showing the need for the project, and the factors that are considered in evaluating alternatives.

4. How does the Tier 1 EIS address the "purpose and need" for the project? <<back>>
The first step in preparing the Tier 1 EIS is the development of a "purpose and need" statement for the project. The purpose-and-need statement documents the range of needs to be addressed by the project and establishes the criteria used to evaluate different alternatives. In developing the purpose-and-need statement, the study team took into account the latest travel demand data, as well as relevant planning decisions, recent legislation, and the views of the public. The purpose-and-need statement was circulated in draft form for review and comment by resource agencies and the public, and was presented at public meetings at various locations in the study area. Following an opportunity for input by agencies and the public, the purpose-and-need statement was approved by FHWA and INDOT for inclusion in the Tier 1 EIS. (Updated 1/16/03)

5. How does "Purpose and Need" affect the study? <<back>>
The purpose-and-need statement plays an important role in three areas of the study: (1) screening alternatives, in order to identify those that will be studied in detail, (2) selecting the preferred alternative, from among those that were studied in detail, and (3) evaluating the no-action alternative. (Updated 1/16/03)

6. What alternatives will be considered in the Tier 1 EIS? <<back>>
By law, an EIS must evaluate all reasonable alternatives for achieving the purpose-and-need of the project, as well as the "no-action" alternative (sometimes called the "no-build" alternative). To comply with this requirement, this study includes a wide-ranging effort to identify all potentially reasonable alternatives. At the outset, the set of alternatives under consideration was very large, at least a dozen different highway routes. From this broad range of alternatives, INDOT and FHWA identified the set of alternatives studied in detail in the Tier 1 EIS. (Updated 1/16/03)

7. Will all of the route concepts (such as those released on December 1, 2000) be given the same level of consideration? Are some treated less seriously than others? <<back>>
All route concepts were given equal consideration, receiving the same level of analysis as put forth in the Purpose and Need Statement, which will call for study of: transportation system and regional economic impacts as well as user benefits, such as travel time, vehicle operating costs and accident reduction. Some alternatives were added as a result of input from the public or government agencies. (Updated 1/16/03)

8. How does the Tier 1 EIS evaluate the environmental and other impacts of the various alternatives? Will there be enough detail to make an informed comparison? <<back>>
The basic goal of the Tier 1 EIS is to provide enough information about benefits, impacts, and costs to allow for an informed decision among the various alternatives. To achieve this goal, the Tier 1 EIS is not just be an inventory of all the environmental and other resources that happen to be located within each corridor. Clearly, such an analysis would be incomplete, because it would not take into account the ease or difficulty of avoiding those resources.

Instead, the Tier 1 EIS includes substantial engineering and environmental impact analysis for specific highway alignments ( called "working alignments") within the various corridors that are being considered in detail. This work is being done to ensure that the study provides a realistic, even-handed comparison of the actual impacts and costs that are likely to result from the construction of a highway within each corridor. Thus, while the Tier 1 EIS will not result in a final decision on a specific alignment for the entire Evansville-to-Indianapolis corridor, it provides a sound factual basis for determining (to a reasonable degree of certainty) the range of impacts and costs associated with each corridor that is under consideration. (Updated 3/10/00)

9. Why did this study take so long? Why did it take until early 2003 to make a recommendation? <<back>>
There are several reasons that this study will continue until some time in 2003. They are as follows.

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires an assessment of the environmental impacts of all reasonable alternatives. Since its enactment in the early 1970's, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) has become a vital safeguard for both the human and natural environment. Under NEPA, actions in which there is a federal role must be thoroughly analyzed to determine their effects upon the human and natural environment. Further, mitigation measures must be determined for adverse environmental impacts. Some of the impacts which must be assessed include:

  • Land Use Impacts
  • Social and Economic Impacts
  • Secondary Impacts
  • Air Quality Impacts
  • Noise Impacts
  • Construction Impacts
  • Historical Impacts
  • Archaeological Impacts
  • Visual Impacts
  • Impacts on Hazardous Waste Sites
  • Impacts on Threatened and Endangered Species
  • Flood Plain Impacts
  • Wetland Impacts
  • Impacts on Agricultural Lands
  • Water Quality Impacts
  • Energy Impacts
  • Impacts on Irreversible and Irretrievable Resources

Environmental impacts must be taken into consideration. More fundamentally, INDOT is committed to providing a transportation facility which is environmentally responsible, and which minimizes adverse impacts. It simply is the right thing to do. Gathering the data to conduct this study takes time. This study is much broader geographically than previous efforts. The Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) is conducting a NEPA study of all reasonable alternatives connecting Evansville and Indianapolis. The Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) issued in 1996 studied connections between Evansville and Bloomington.

This project has a 26 county study area. Assembling environmental data for this entire area, and analyzing the effects of many alternatives throughout this study area, is a very large undertaking. This is one of the largest transportation studies conducted under NEPA. Most of the Interstate Highway system was built before the requirements of NEPA came into effect. There simply have been few, if any, transportation projects of this magnitude evaluated under the requirements of NEPA. This also is one of the largest environmental studies conducted by the Indiana Department of Transportation.

Also, this project has generated a great deal of public interest. INDOT has received literally thousands of opinions from various interest groups, expressing preferences for or against various alternatives. Given this high level of public interest, INDOT is making an unprecedented effort to communicate with interest groups and fully consider the input of all interested parties. Updated1/16/03)

10. When can construction begin? <<back>>
It is not possible to say at this time how soon major segments of the facility will be built. However, it probably will be the last half of this decade before construction can begin. While this is not as quickly as other Interstate facilities have been built, it must be kept in mind that most Interstate highways were built before the enactment of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). This project is one of the largest, if not the largest, transportation facilities for which a NEPA analysis has been done. To build an environmentally responsible facility requires adequate time to analyze its impacts upon the human and natural environment. (Updated 3/10/00)

11. When would a part of the highway actually open? <<back>>
Again, this depends. But, an aggressively realistic goal for a first section might be open for traffic by the end of this decade. (Updated1/16/03)

12. What will happen in Tier 2? <<back>>
Tier 2 involves the preparation of more detailed analyses of the impacts and mitigation measures related to an exact alignment for the project within the selected corridor. Tier 2 will involve the preparation of a series of separate EISs and/or Environmental Assessments (EAs) for individual projects within the selected corridor. The decision about how to proceed in Tier 2 will be made in the Tier 1 Record of Decision (ROD). (Updated1/16/03)

13. What is the "no build" alternative? <<back>>
Under the terms of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), all actions must be compared against the base case of doing nothing. For transportation studies, this base case of doing nothing is called the "no build" alternative. The impacts, benefits, and costs of all alternatives associated with each alternative are as compared to the "no build" alternative. The no build alternative, however, does not imply that existing facilities will not be maintained as needed. Maintenance of existing facilities will continue no matter what alternative is selected. (Updated 3/10/00)

14. Is this just a highway study? What about other modes of transportation? <<back>>
Under terms of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and associated regulations, an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) must study all modes of transportation, not just highway modes. However, in the Transportation Efficiency Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21), Congress specifically designated that a high-speed transportation corridor connecting Indianapolis and Evansville "shall be designated as Interstate 69 (I-69)." (TEA 21, Section 1211 (I) (3) (B). This legislation means that future planning for a high speed transportation corridor linking Indianapolis and Evansville should proceed on the assumption that it will be developed as an Interstate highway. (Updated 1/16/03)

15. What is a "record of decision?" <<back>>
At the conclusion of an environmental study conducted under the National Environmental Policy Act NEPA), a "Record of Decision" (ROD) is issued by the United States Secretary of Transportation. This ROD documents the decision of the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) to approve the selected alternative. By issuing a ROD, USDOT makes the determination that federal law and regulations have been satisfied in arriving at the recommended decision. (Updated 3/10/00)

16. What are the "sections" for the preferred?" <<back>>
All parts of a large transportation project (such as a transportation facility connecting Indianapolis and Evansville) cannot be constructed at the same time. Construction of such a facility would be staged, with some parts constructed earlier than others. To assist engineers and designers in staging design and construction, the Tier 1 study will determine "sections" for the recommended alternative. These "sections" can perform a useful, independent function within the regional transportation network, even before other parts of the facility are built. If the Tier 1 analysis recommends a facility be constructed, it will also determine what these stand-alone "sections" are. (Updated 1/16/03)

17. What is the difference between a public meeting and a public hearing? <<back>>
A public hearing is a formal proceeding that is required by law for certain transportation projects. A public hearing must conform to specific legal requirements, for example, all comments must be transcribed, and announcements advertising the time and location for the hearing must meet certain minimum requirements. Public hearings also are relatively infrequent; for most projects, there is only one public hearing, and it usually is held toward the end of the study process. By contrast to public hearings, public meetings are less formal and more frequent. For major projects such as I-69, public meetings are held throughout the study process, in order to provide frequent opportunities for public input. Public meetings can be held in many different formats; comments submitted at public meetings usually are not transcribed. However, under Indiana law, public meetings for highway projects must provide an opportunity for those attending the meeting to be heard by others that have assembled. In that sense, public meetings for highway projects in Indiana are somewhat more formal than public meetings in other states. (Updated 12/12/00)

18. What is the Section 106 process and how can interested citizens participate in it? <<back>>
Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act establishes a process federal agencies must follow before taking actions that may affect historic properties. With regard to the I-69 project, the federal agency responsible for complying with Section 106 is the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). The federal agency responsible for overseeing the entire Section 106 process is the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP).

The Section 106 process involves many participants. In addition to FHWA, participants include the general public, "consulting parties," and, in some cases, the ACHP. The consulting parties always include INDOT; the Indiana State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO); Native American tribes with lands or resources in the project area; and local governments in the project area. In addition; private individuals and organizations may be designated as consulting parties by FHWA.

The Section 106 process requires federal agencies to consider the effects of their actions on historic resources and to allow the ACHP to comment prior to implementation. The process involves four major steps:

  • Initiating the Section 106 Process: The first step involves outreach to a wide range of potential participants and the general public. An important part of this step is the designation of consulting parties. If you or your group would like to be designated as a consulting party, you should submit a written request to the FHWA Indiana Division Office. Explain the nature of your interest in the project and/or your concern with the project's effects on historic properties.
  • Identifying Historic Properties: The next step is identifying historic properties protected under Section 106. To be protected, a property must be listed in or eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. Eligible properties may be of national, state, or local significance. They may include historic districts, sites, buildings, structures and objects. For more information about the National Register, see www.cr.nps.gov/nr/index.htm.
  • Evaluating Effects: The third step is to evaluate the effects of the proposed project on those properties. This stage focuses on determining whether the project would adversely affect any historic properties. Resolving Adverse Effects. If a project involves adverse effects on historic properties, the federal agency must consult with the SHPO and other consulting parties about how to resolve the adverse effects. This effort often results in agreements to avoid, reduce, or mitigate the adverse effects.

To learn more, including how you can participate in the process, see the ACHP's "Citizens Guide to Section 106 Review," at www.achp.gov/citizensguide.html. For more detailed information, see the  ACHP's "Section 106 User's Guide," at www.achp.gov/usersguide.html.

19.  Why was the Preferred Corridor for I-69 announced months in advance of issuing the Final Environmental Impact Statement? Isnít this "jumping the gun?"<<back>>

The timing of the announcement of a preferred alternative followed the usual procedures for an environmental impact statement (EIS) in Indiana. Under those procedures, a preferred alternative is typically identified between the Draft EIS and the Final EIS. Once the preferred alternative is announced, FHWA and INDOT initiate further consultation with resource agencies to discuss issues related to the preferred alternative, such as mitigation. The results of that consultation are then presented in the Final EIS, thus providing a more complete picture of the projectís expected environmental impacts.

The typical FHWA/INDOT procedures for announcing a preferred alternative were followed here. The Draft EIS comment period ended on November 7. The FHWA and INDOT then spent more than two months reviewing the comments received. They also conducted additional analysis where necessary to respond to comments Ė for example, the EPAís request for consideration of potential hybrid alternatives. Then, on January 9, the preferred alternative was announced. Now that the preferred alternative has been identified, INDOT and FHWA will undertake further consultation with the environmental resource agencies regarding mitigation and other issues. The results of that consultation will be presented in the Final EIS. This approach is fully consistent with the typical procedures for an EIS in Indiana.

The timing of the announcement of the preferred alternative also is consistent with federal regulations. (40 CFR 1502.14(e)). Under those regulations, a preferred alternative may be announced in a Draft EIS, and must be announced no later than the Final EIS. Thus, the Final EIS is actually the latest point (not the earliest point) at which a preferred alternative must be announced. The regulations clearly allow a preferred alternative to be announced well before the Final EIS is issued.

It is important to note that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has expressed a preference for having a preferred alternative identified in the Draft EIS itself. (The EPA expressed that view in a letter to the Federal Highway Administration dated February 22, 2002 regarding all of the I-69 projects nationally, from Canada to Mexico.) Given the complexity of the issues involved in this study, INDOT determined that it was not possible to identify a single preferred alternative in the Draft EIS. However, INDOT attempted to accommodate the EPAís request by grouping the alternatives into "preferred" and "non-preferred" categories in the Draft EIS, and by identifying a single preferred alternative as soon as reasonably possible after the Draft EIS comment period had ended.

Lastly, it also is important to note that identifying a preferred alternative prior to the Final EIS facilitates compliance with other federal laws. For example, the federal Endangered Species Act will require the preparation of a study known as a "biological assessment" for this project. The biological assessment will then have to be followed by another document known as a "biological opinion." As the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service explained in its comments on the Draft EIS, the biological opinion should focus on the preferred alternative and should be included in the Final EIS. In order to follow the procedure described by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, it obviously is necessary to follow the sequence that is being followed here: i.e., identify the preferred alternative, then prepare the biological assessment and biological opinion, and then issue the Final EIS, which incorporates the biological opinion.

In sum, the sequence of events that is being followed here is consistent with the typical FHWA/INDOT procedures; it is consistent with federal regulations governing EISs; and it facilitates compliance with other federal laws.

 

STUDY ISSUES

1. Why spend all this money just to shorten travel time by 30 minutes from Indianapolis to Evansville? <<back>>
A transportation link between southwestern Indiana and Indianapolis has long been regarded as a "missing link" in the state's transportation network. This study will make a final determination as to the value (e.g., due to improved travel time, decreased accidents, enhanced economic opportunity, etc.) offered by a transportation facility between Indianapolis and Evansville. (Updated 1/16/03)

2. Is the road going to go where the numbers say it should go, or will the decision be based on other factors? <<back>>
This study will consider a wide range of alternatives for connecting Evansville and Indianapolis. The numbers (in other words, the data) will help to clarify the pros and cons of the various alternatives. For example, traffic modeling data can be used to measure the time savings that would be achieved by each route over current conditions. In addition, environmental impact data can be used to measure the impacts of each route on specific types of resources B how many acres of farmland would be taken, how many residences or businesses would be taken, and so on. But the decision about which alternative to select requires a balancing of all of these factors. In making this decision, INDOT and FHWA will consider not only the "hard data," but also the factors that are more difficult to measure, including the interests and concerns of individual citizens as expressed through the public involvement process. (Updated 12/12/00)

3. What will you do if citizens along a particular route object to I-69 passing through their area? <<back>>
Continue to study and listen. Citizen input is an essential element of this study. (Updated 12/12/00)

4. If a region or area indicates in public hearings that they want the route to come near or through their area, are they more likely to get the highway in their area? <<back>>
Public sentiment, both for and against, is always a factor. It will be weighed along with technical and environmental considerations. However, it is important to keep in mind that public comments on a project are often conflicting, even within a particular region or community. In addition, the final decision on this project will be made based on the interests of Indiana as a whole, not based on the interests of a particular region or community. (Updated 12/12/00)

5. I've heard a lot of talk about "I-69 Direct." When people say they are in favor of "I-69 Direct," to which of the 14 route proposals are they referring? <<back>>
All routes analyzed in the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) are direct routes from Evansville to Indianapolis. Each one could be considered "I-69 Direct."

People referring to "I-69 Direct" most likely have a specific route concept in mind; however, unless they provide further details, it is not possible to know to which one they refer. Therefore, if someone provides the general comment to INDOT, "Build I-69 Direct," it is considered a general comment in favor of I-69, and not in favor of a specific route. (Updated 1/16/03)

IMPACTS

1. Would a route other than an upgrade of US-41 and I-70 have an adverse economic effect on Terre Haute, Vincennes and other communities along US 41? <<back>>
It is possible that the construction of a cross country highway could have an adverse impact on some existing businesses along the US 41/I-70 corridor. However, it also is possible that an upgrade of U.S. 41/I-70 to Interstate standards would adversely impact those businesses either by directly taking their property, or by limiting access to the existing highway. The potential impacts on those businesses from all alternatives are being considered in this study. (Updated 12/12/00)

2. How do you respond to critics who complain about the loss of up to 5,000 acres of prime farmland? <<back>>
Whatever amounts of farmland which would be taken would have to be measured against the real gains that can be expected from the highway. (Updated1/16/03)

3. Does the study place a high priority on farmland preservation, or is farmland simply an inexpensive and easy way to acquire right-of-way? <<back>>
Farmland preservation is an important consideration in developing alternatives routes for this study. The Commissioner's instructions to staff in laying out alternative routes has been as follows: To the extent possible, prospective routes will be located adjacent to existing roadways or high tension lines where farm properties and forest lands have already been disturbed. While such alternatives would still take farmland and forest acreage, they would help to minimize disruption to existing farming operations. (Updated 12/12/00)

4. Along with the prime farmland taken to build a highway, what can you tell us about secondary impacts to the land and the environment from a new route? <<back>>
We have developed models to help estimate the magnitude and distribution of secondary development. This analysis is contained in the EIS. (Updated 1/16/03)

5. What other secondary impacts of I-69 are of concern? <<back>>
Future development patterns along Corridor 18/I-69 in Indiana will depend on whether the entire route is completed from Canada to Mexico and how the completion of that route affects traffic patterns. These impacts are being considered as part of this study. (Updated 12/12/00)

6. Could the results of the Vanderburgh County South I-69 Study affect the outcome of the S.W. Indiana I-69 EIS? <<back>>
The two projects are segments of independent utility for I-69. At this time, both projects have terminus points in the general area of Evansville. This study connects Evansville to Indianapolis, the other connects Henderson KY to Evansville. We have ensured that there is a two-way flow of information between the two studies. (Updated 1/16/03)

7. After seeing the 14 preliminary route concepts released on December 1, 2000, I wonder if I-69 will go near the cemetery in our town, will you work around the cemetery or will you uproot the graves? This is of great concern to us because many in our family are buried there. <<back>>
Such considerations are analyzed in the impacts analysis phase of the project. With the use of our Geographic Information System (GIS), many impacts will be taken into account, including the location of cemeteries, wetlands, historic structures, and archaeological sites, to name just a few. We will make every effort to avoid impacts such as using an existing cemetery for the highway. (Updated 1/16/03)

8. How will the possible extension of I-69 from Evansville to Indianapolis affect traffic on I-465 around Indianapolis? <<back>>
A great deal of effort was made in this environmental impact study to answer this question. Impacts on and near I-465 such as traffic congestion, air quality, and noise were forecasted and analyzed. This is analyzed in the EIS. (Updated 1/16/03)

FUNDING / LEGISLATIVE ISSUES

1. Have INDOT and FHWA determined that federal law allows I-69 to be built somewhere other than via Bloomington? <<back>>
FHWA and INDOT have carefully reviewed the federal legislation that designated Corridor 18 / I-69 as a high-priority corridor on the National Highway System. The legislation specifically designates Evansville and Indianapolis as cities that must be included on the Corridor 18/I-69 route; however, the section of the law that defines Corridor 18/I-69 does not specifically mention Bloomington. Therefore, FHWA and INDOT have both concluded that federal legislation does not specifically require Corridor 18/I-69 to serve Bloomington. Of course, it is possible that a route through Bloomington will eventually be chosen. See the answer to the following question for additional detail. (Updated 1/16/03)

2. What is the legally designated route for Corridor 18 in Indiana? How can the legally designated route be modified? Is it necessary for the Tier 1 EIS to consider alternatives that do not follow the legally designated route? <<back>>
The legal status of Corridor 18 is a complex issue. Key points include:

  • Section 1105(c) of ISTEA designates a route for Corridor 18 that includes Evansville and Indianapolis but does not specifically include Bloomington.
  • Section 1105(f) of ISTEA provides funding for a "high-priority segment" of Corridor 18 between Evansville and Bloomington.
  • The official NHS map for Indiana B which was approved by Congress B includes an Evansville-to-Bloomington-to-Indianapolis route on the NHS. However, it does not specifically designate this route as Corridor 18. 
  • FHWA and INDOT have concluded that, under current law, Corridor 18 must connect Evansville and Indianapolis, but need not connect to Bloomington.
  • Changes to the description of Corridor 18 in Section 1105(c) of ISTEA can be made only by Congress. Changes to the NHS map can be made by FHWA.
  • The Tier 1 EIS must consider all reasonable alternatives for completing Corridor 18. To be considered reasonable for this study, an 
    alternative must connect Evansville and Indianapolis, but does need not to connect to Bloomington.
Supporting Information:

What is the Legally Designated Route for Corridor 18 in Indiana? 
Congress has addressed the location of Corridor 18 in several ways; by designating the corridor itself, by approving funding for a "high-priority segment" of the corridor, and by approving the National Highway System (NHS) map for Indiana. To determine the legal status of Corridor 18, it is necessary to consider all of these expressions of the intentions of Congress.

Legal Description of Corridor 18. Section 1105(c) of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Act of 1991 (ISTEA) designated routes for certain "high-priority corridors" on the NHS. The corridor designated in Section 1105(c)(18) now known as "Corridor 18"  included Indianapolis and Evansville, but did not mention Bloomington. Congress has amended Section 1105(c)(18) on several occasions, most recently in the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) in 1998. However, the legal description of Corridor 18 in Indiana has remained unchanged: it still includes Indianapolis and Evansville, but does not include Bloomington. (See Section 1105(c), at Ref 7.)

"High-Priority Segment" of Corridor 18. Section 1105(f) of ISTEA authorized funding for certain "high-priority segments" of the high-priority corridors. One of the high-priority segments listed in this section was the "Bloomington-to-Newberry" section of Corridor 18. Subsequently, the description of this high-priority segment was extended to "Bloomington to Evansville." (See Section 1105(f), at Ref 8.)

Indiana's NHS Map. In ISTEA, Congress directed the States to recommend routes that should be included on the NHS, a national network of highways that serve as the primary focus for federal transportation investments. The map developed by INDOT, and approved by FHWA, included an Evansville-to-Bloomington-to-Indianapolis route. Congress approved the Indiana NHS map in 1995, and approved a slightly modified version in 1998. The current approved NHS map for Indiana shows an Evansville-to-Bloomington-to-Indianapolis highway, but does not specifically designate this route as Corridor 18 and does not depict this route as an Interstate. (See Indiana NHS Map and 23 USC ' 103(b)(1), at Ref 9.)

Current Legal Definition of Corridor 18. The FHWA and INDOT interpret the current legal status of Corridor 18 as follows:
  1. Corridor 18 must connect Evansville and Indianapolis, but does not need to connect to Bloomington;
  2. the funding authorized for the "high-priority segment" between Evansville and Bloomington can be used for construction of Corridor 18 only if an Evansville-to-Bloomington-to-Indianapolis route is chosen (or the legislation is changed); and
  3. the current NHS map for Indiana does not specifically identify a location for Corridor 18.

How Can the Legally Designated Route for Corridor 18 Be Modified? The current legal definition of Corridor 18 can be modified, as can the current NHS map. The procedures for modifying them are as follows:

Modifying Corridor 18. The route for Corridor 18, as defined in Section 1105(c) of ISTEA, can only be modified by an act of Congress. Thus, it is conceivable that Congress could shift the route for Corridor 18 to Illinois, or make other significant changes to the route for Corridor 18.

Modifying the NHS Map. The U.S. Secretary of Transportation has the authority to approve "any modification" to the NHS, as long as the modification is consistent with the criteria established for the NHS in federal legislation. (See 23 U.S.C. ' 103(b)(4) at Ref 10.) The Secretary's power to approve changes to the NHS is exercised by FHWA, which has issued criteria for evaluating proposed modifications. (See 23 C.F.R. Part 470, App. D at Ref 11.)

As part of the ongoing Tier 1 EIS, FHWA and INDOT will review the various alternatives for consistency with the NHS criteria.

If an alternative that would require a change in the NHS map is selected, FHWA would approve the necessary change in the NHS map in conjunction with its approval of the Tier 1 EIS or at an appropriate time soon thereafter.

What Alternatives Need to be Considered in the Tier 1 EIS? To comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Tier 1 EIS must consider all "reasonable" alternatives. An alternative may be "reasonable" even if it requires a change in legislation or administrative policy. On the other hand, the fact that an alternative would require a change in existing legislation and policies is one factor that can be considered in deciding whether that alternative is reasonable.

For purposes of the Tier 1 EIS, FHWA and INDOT have determined that:

An alternative that does not complete Corridor 18 between Evansville and Indianapolis is not a reasonable alternative.

An alternative that does not serve Bloomington may still be reasonable, even though it would be ineligible for certain funds previously authorized by Congress B e.g., the funds authorized for construction of a Bloomington-to-Evansville highway. 

An alternative that would require a change in the official NHS map for Indiana may still be reasonable, as long as the change could be approved in accordance with the standard criteria for modifying the NHS.

3. Has Congress provided funding that can only be used for a route passing through Bloomington? <<back>>
Altogether, Congress has made approximately $63.4 million in federal funding available for a highway between Evansville and Indianapolis. Of this amount, about $2.9 million was spent on the study and preliminary design work for the Southwest Indiana Highway Project between Evansville and Bloomington. The remainder, about $60.5 million, remains available for Corridor 18/I-69. Of this amount, approximately $48.7 million is specifically linked to a route connecting Bloomington to Evansville. This amount ($48.7 million) would be available for this project if the selected route goes through Bloomington; if a non-Bloomington route is selected, further action by Congress would be needed to allow the $48.7 million to be used for this project. See the answer to the following question for additional detail. (Updated 12/12/00)

4. How much federal funding is currently available to study, design, and construct Corridor 18 between Evansville and Indianapolis? Can these funds be used if a non-Bloomington route is selected for Corridor 18? <<back>>
Altogether, approximately $63.4 million in federal funding has been made available specifically for Corridor 18 between Evansville and Indianapolis. Of this amount, about $2.9 million was spent on the previous study and preliminary design work. The remainder, about $60.5 million, remains available for Corridor 18. Of this amount, approximately $48.7 million probably would be unavailable for  further work on Corridor 18 if the Tier 1 EIS results in approval of a corridor that does not connect Evansville and Bloomington.

In addition, Indiana receives general appropriations each year under a variety of federal-aid highway programs. (Currently, the total annual amount is approximately $ 640 million.) Funds from some of these programs could be used for Corridor 18.

Together, these three categories of funding account for approximately $390 million out of the $640 million. Most of the funds apportioned under these three programs to date have been able to utilize funds from within these categories for Corridor 18. (Updated 7/26/00)

Click here for supporting information

5. Does the State have enough money to build the Highway? <<back>>
Funding for this project depends on a lot of unknowns. Over how many years will it be built? What will Indiana's share of federal dollars be in the future? Will Congress appropriate additional special funding? At the present time Indiana is receiving significantly more federal transportation dollars than we have in the past. It is reasonable to say that, if federal and state funding levels continue along the path of recent trends, the financing of I-69 is a realistic goal. (Updated 12/12/00)

6. How much of the funding to build a highway could come from the federal government and how much from the state? <<back>>
This will depend, of course, on the final financing package. The current formula for federally-assisted projects is 80% federal, 20% state. (Updated 12/12/00)

7. Would other regions of the state suffer from lack of highway funding if and when I-69 gets built? <<back>>
At any given time, the transportation resources of the State may be focused more heavily in some regions than in others. For example, in the past, INDOT focused its transportation funds on completing Interstate routes elsewhere in the State. However, INDOT is committed to addressing the transportation needs of the entire State, taking into account the needs and priorities of each region.  (Updated 12/12/00)

8. Illinois is now represented on the National I-69 Steering Committee. Does Indiana face losing I-69 to Illinois? <<back>>
No. Congress has designated I-94 between Chicago and Detroit as a priority connector to the National I-69 route. For this reason, Illinois is represented on the National I-69 Steering Committee. The National I-69 route must use the existing I-69 corridor from Michigan to Indianapolis and then connect Indianapolis to Evansville. A plan to move the proposed I-69 from Indiana to Illinois would  require the United States Congress to change existing legislation.

When asked directly in the spring of 2001, senior Illinois Department of Transportation officials stated unequivocally that they have no desire to move the I-69 project to their state. In addition, the Federal Highway Administration official responsible for coordinating the national I-69 effort also has publicly dismissed the idea that Indiana might lose I-69 to Illinois. (Updated 1/16/03)

PUBLIC INVOLVEMENT

1. Could you please send me a printed copy of study reports, such as the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) issued July 31, 2002? <<back>>
Because of the expense in reproducing study reports, most of them are not available to the general public in printed form. Reports and maps are available elsewhere on this web site for viewing and downloading. This requires Adobe Acrobat reader, which also is available on this web site for free download.

For those without Internet access in their homes, public libraries across the state provide Internet access for the general public. Generally, these libraries also allow users to print information from Internet sites. (Revised 1/16/03)