I-69 potential economic impact creating buzz - 14 News, WFIE, Evansville, Henderson, Owensboro

I-69 potential economic impact creating buzz

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By Marianne Lyles
Posted by Mike Mardis

There was a ground breaking ceremony Wednesday in Evansville. It wasn't held on the interstate site, or even outdoors. It was held at the Centre in downtown Evansville.

The ceremony came complete with a mini movie and dirt from the actual construction site, all for the long awaited I-69 groundbreaking.

Hundreds of community leaders were in attendance at the I-69 groundbreaking event. The buzz around the event was the economic boost it is likely to supply to a slow economy.

Rich Thyen, Huntingburg Street Superintendent, said he thinks the new road will give that boost Indiana needs.

"Jobs are scarce right now, and I think it's going to be a big plus," Thyen said. "It's going to generate a lot of jobs."

I-69 is expected to generate 4,600 permanent jobs by 2025. That doesn't include construction work for almost 7,500 people.

Yvonne Haner with Young Evansville Professionals said it's the jobs that will keep its members from leaving to other cities.

"We have our future to think about," Haner said. "Our salaries depend on this area. So people will stop moving to Indianapolis and Chicago because they will have a future here."

Governor Mitch Daniels praised the state for living up to it's nickname.

"Let the rest of America erode if they will. Let them deteriorate if they haven't the guts or the imagination to do what we did," Daniels said. "In Indiana we are building, and we are going to have a great future."

Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel was not specific about which companies will provide the employment, but he said there's definitely interest from out of town businesses now that construction is starting on the first section of the interstate.

"We have been impressed with the number of contacts and requests looking for information in southwest Indiana," Weinzapfel said.

The governor said most states are shying away from these kind of construction projects because of money, and that too could help the entire state's success.

I-69 will cut travel time from Evansville to Indianapolis by 27 minutes. Studies suggest the route will generate $3.5 billion in additional income for the region, and yet it's money that still has some concerned.

There's still a question about future funds to complete the interstate. But Daniels still said it's full speed ahead.

"We'll get there you know, but this makes the road inevitable, and we have the funds in the bank," Daniels said.

Daniels said the Indiana Department of Transportation will build as fast as they can to avoid rising construction costs.

The planning manager said a possible completion date for section one, which goes to Oakland City could be 2012.

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