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Section 1 of I-69 Ohio River Crossing approved for construction

Published: Sep. 22, 2021 at 8:21 AM CDT
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HENDERSON, Ky. (WFIE) - Officials say construction of Section 1 of I-69 Ohio River Crossing is a go now that the environmental study is complete.

“It is the next huge milestone in this process,” Henderson County Judge Executive Brad Schneider said. “It’s basically a blessing from the Federal Highway Administration saying we agree that your project is important and we agree that you have developed a way to pay for it to our satisfaction.”

Officials with the I-69 Ohio River Crossing (I-69 ORX) say the project is divided into two sections.

Section 1 focuses on improvements in Henderson and extends KY 425 to US 60.

Officials say the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet is overseeing the Section 1 project with construction expected to start in early 2022 and continue through 2025.

I-69 ORX Section 2 is a bistate project between Indiana and Kentucky that will complete the I-69 connection from US 60 in Henderson to I-69 in Evansville.

Officials say it includes the new river crossing.

Design is expected to begin in 2025 with construction anticipated to begin in 2027 and continue through 2031. Both states continue to look for opportunities to accelerate that timeline.

“Kentucky is starting it’s side earlier than Indiana,” Schneider said. “Indiana is really focused on completing what they call Section 6, which is from Martinsville to Indianapolis. Kentucky is in a position to start now. So by the time we get the section built up to US 60, Indiana will be in a better position.”

According to a press release, the last steps of the environmental study were the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) and Record of Decision (ROD), required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for large, federally-funded projects.

The FEIS identifies Central Alternative 1B Modified as the Selected Alternative.

Officials say it includes a four-lane I-69 bridge and retains one US 41 bridge for local traffic. It includes 11.2 miles of new interstate, including 8.4 miles on new terrain and 2.8 miles of upgrades to US 41.

They say only the I-69 bridge will be tolled.

“Even though tolling can be a point of argument or challenges, I think people would be willing to pay for convenience if they wanted to zip across the river quickly,” Schneider said. “I guess a good majority of the tolls will be paid by through traffic, people coming through our area to help pay for that bridge.”

Schneider added that the goal is to eliminate tolls once the debt incurred by the construction is repaid.

The northbound Twin Bridge will remain open after the completion of this project. It will serve as a toll-free option for local traffic.

The ROD is issued by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and signifies final approval of the Selected Alternative.

The FEIS is posted on the project website (//I69ohiorivercrossing.com/feis-rod) and a printed copy will be available for review at several locations:

  • I-69 ORX Project Office: 1970 Barrett Ct., Suite 100, Henderson, KY
  • Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library (EVPL) – Central Library: 200 SE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Evansville, IN
  • EVPL – East Branch: 840 E. Chandler Ave., Evansville, IN
  • EVPL – McCollough Branch: 5115 Washington Ave., Evansville, IN
  • Henderson Public Library: 101 S. Main St., Henderson, KY
  • Henderson County Judge/Executive: 20 N. Main St., Suite 300, Henderson, KY
  • Housing Authority of Henderson: 111 S. Adams St., Henderson, KY
  • KYTC Central Office: 200 Mero St., Division of Environmental Analysis, Frankfort, KY
  • KYTC District 2 Office: 1840 N. Main St., Madisonville, KY
  • INDOT Central Office: 100 N. Senate Ave., Room N758-ES, Indianapolis, IN
  • INDOT Vincennes District Office: 3650 S. US 41, Vincennes, IN

The alignment is unchanged from the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) published in December 2018. The Selected Alternative is “modified” because additional design work has resulted in modifications to each of the interchanges to improve operations and reduce project costs.

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