EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - On Tuesday, Governor Eric J. Holcomb announced the Indiana Department of Transportation will take the next steps to advance the development of an Interstate 69 crossing over the Ohio River near Evansville.
The state has identified a preferred alternative route in partnership with the commonwealth of Kentucky that will include a new, four-lane tolled Interstate 69 bridge over the Ohio River, while also retaining at least one of the existing U.S. 41 Ohio River twin bridges to support local traffic.
The press release states the remaining U.S. 41 Ohio River bridge will be non-tolled.
“This really gives us the best balance of really enhancing that regional mobility with the new interstate bridge,” says INDOT Spokesman Scott Manning, “but also having a non-tolled local option for traffic within the area.”
“Our globally recognized transportation network and prime location make Indiana one of the most attractive places in the U.S. to do business,” Gov. Holcomb said. “Advancing the I-69 Ohio River Crossing as we finish construction of I-69 between Evansville and Indianapolis further enhances our connectivity regionally and nationally. Our progress on this transformational effort sends a strong message to job creators that Indiana will continue to offer best-in-class infrastructure for generations to come.”
Officials familiar with the project say the new I-69 bridge will be built about one mile east of the twin bridges in Henderson.
Henderson County Judge-Executive Brad Schneider says near the Weinbach Avenue exit on I-69 South is where the new bridge will take travelers over the Ohio River and into the commonwealth.
“We’re excited,” says Schneider, “completely excited.”
Judge-Executive Schneider says over the last two years, Indiana and Kentucky have worked together to finalize the project’s environmental impact statement.
“That leads to getting a record of decision from federal highways, which basically green-lights the project,” says Schneider, “and we’ve now reached that point.”
Officials say the publication of both documents is expected in 2021.
Judge-Executive Schneider says no Indiana homes or business should be impacted by the route, and in Kentucky, he says possibly just one residence will be affected.
“The idea that we are going to be able to do this with the minimal amount of disruption of too many people’s lives is great,” says Schneider. “So, here we go!”
Kentucky and Indiana will share costs for the $1.5 billion design and construction of the project, using a combination of toll revenue and existing federal and state transportation funds.
“As we finish construction of I-69 between Evansville and Indianapolis, Hoosiers are already experiencing the benefits of a faster, safer connection between Southwest Indiana and our capital city and points beyond,” Indiana Department of Transportation Commissioner Joe McGuinness said. “Moving forward on the I-69 Ohio River Crossing brings those same mobility and safety benefits to motorists on a regional scale along with tremendous opportunity for private investment and job growth.”
Construction on the I-69 Ohio River Crossing is expected to begin following the opening to traffic of I-69 Section 6 between Martinsville and Indianapolis in late 2024. Officials expect the completion of the Ohio River Crossing by 2028.
“It is so exciting to be to this point,” says Schneider. “This bridge is going to happen. It’s going to get built. It will be transformational for our region.”