“I am going to go as fast as I can go,” Styline CEO Hank Menke said about the proposed interstate he and other area business leaders would like to see running through Dubois County. “It would have taken three years to get this study done through the normal channels and we got it done in a year. This should send a signal to INDOT.”
Menke is the president of the I-67 Development Corporation, the group pushing a plan to build the 37-mile highway from the improved portion of U.S. 231 to I-69 southeast of Washington, IN. On Wednesday the group heard what they are interpreting as good news from the study conducted by Cambridge Systematics, Inc.
Cambridge studied the traffic patterns and economical impact of the proposed interstate in an area that extends from Bowling Green, Kentucky, to Washington, IN. The counties included in the study were Dubois, Spencer, Martin and Daviess counties in Indiana and Butler, Daviess, Ohio and Warren counties in Kentucky.
The I-67 group is exploring the potential for the road to be a private public partnership as a toll road. The numbers presented by the Cambridge study portrayed figures from a toll or no-toll perspective. A few key points of the study were:
- They determined the highway could see 16,000 to 30,000 vehicles per day in twenty years if the interstate was built.
- The economic impact of the highway ranged from $460 million if it was a toll road and $1.3 billion without tolls.
- The study stated this equates to 3,600 job-years if it is tolled and 10,800 job-years if it is not tolled. (Job-years is a tool to calculate the amount of work needed to complete a project. A job-year is one year of work for one person; a new job that lasts five years is five job-years.)
- The study showed that U.S. 231 is a dangerous corridor as it stands now with truck traffic –in Indiana the highway has twice the state’s average in fatalities yearly— and the new highway could cut that number in half.
- The proposed corridor would not impact I-69 traffic and would in fact compliment the new interstate.
- It would relieve some congestion on I-65 on the east side of the state.
- It would support manufacturing and freight businesses along the corridor. Manufacturing output is currently rising and freight industry accounts for 43 percent of total employment in the study corridor.
Menke was excited about the results of the survey. According to Menke the study absolutely proves his point about the necessity of the new corridor. “To the point now that we need to push this out to the public and really get this thing going.”
The group met after the press conference to determine the next steps in presenting the findings to state and federal officials to get the approval to build the road.