Paying the price for I-69 

Southside facing high cost of expansion
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Southside facing high cost of expansion
If the proposed I-69 expansion takes the current route along S.R. 37 South as proposed by the governor, the western portion of Perry Township could lose an estimated $100 to $200 million in assessed property values. That’s just one of the messages the Perry Township Civic Association is trying to communicate to residents.

Besides the effect on property values, the group cites a 2003 report by state Sen. Larry Borst, claiming that even with an increase in the gas tax by 5 cents, it would take 14 years to pay for I-69. “With the proposed spending and tax increases, I-69 is a drain on taxpayers,” local business owner and association President Mike Wadsworth said.

And more than just that area will be affected. “There is a misnomer that this is an issue with the west side of the township, not the east side. But if 20 percent of the funding will come from taxpayers, it’s not just the west side,” Kathy Price, Perry Township assessor, said.

But the proposal has already had an immediate effect on local business expansion. “We’ve already lost bids to build a McDonald’s and a storage facility,” Price said.

She didn’t know exactly how many existing individuals and businesses would be affected. But even if the highway stayed with the state’s proposal, which calls for I-69 to span 390 feet on either side from the center of S.R. 37, “It would go through a new apartment complex at Southport Road and S.R. 37,” Price added. “And federal highway takes are always larger than state.”

The Civic Association Web site states that regardless of what the public has heard, the proposed route is not a “done deal.” The association states that it will take up to three years for the route to be chosen.

In addition to informing the public about the economic effects of the expansion, the grass-roots organization is applying election year pressure on incumbent politicians to find an alternate solution. The association has been present at recent political functions, including the Democratic summit meeting held in French Lick over the weekend.

Another location that has been a constant target for protest has been the I-69 Section 6 office located at 7550 S. Meridian St. Wadsworth said, “Our major focus is the November election, but we will always target this location.”

The Civic Association will be present at an I-69 Car Tour Saturday, Sept. 4, hosted by Libertarian candidate Kenn Gividen. To find out more about efforts to stop the I-69 expansion project go to the COUNT US! Web site at

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