[Oct 3] In Indiana, environmental
groups and local officials filed suit Monday seeking an injunction to block continued work
on the Interstate 69 extension through southwest Indiana, alleging
that the environmental study was rigged to support the
“direct” routing via Bloomington between Evansville and
Meanwhile, in Mississippi, 12 miles of Interstate 69 will open to traffic at 2 p.m. today
connecting Tunica County with Interstate 55 in the northwestern
portion of the state. The Commercial Appeal also reports
that construction work on Mississippi's portion of the Memphis Outer
Beltway (I-269) is expected to begin in the next three years.
Photos of the new route are available here, taken by G. Clark.
[Jul 12] The Memphis Commercial
Appeal reports that the Mississippi Department
of Transportation plans to open Mississippi 304 and I-69 between U.S. 61 and I-55 on October 3,
with the spur between the route and current MS 304 opening around
two months later; a similar story appears on the AP
[Jun 21] Indiana: On Tuesday, the Indiana Supreme Court effectively ended a lawsuit brought by opponents of leasing the
Indiana East-West Toll Road and constructing most of I-69 in Indiana
as a new toll road.
Mississippi: MDOT has designated
a preferred alternative for I-69 between Benoit and Robinsonville; see
for a map.
Greenville (Miss.) Delta Democrat Times reports that a Greenville chamber of commerce member believes
Arkansas officials are dragging their feet on constructing their
portions of I-69 in the apparent hope of diverting the route to
Arkansas: The Pine Bluff
Commercial reports that FHWA has approved the I-69 route in southern
Arkansas between El Dorado and McGehee; in addition, a four-mile
section of future Interstate 530 (SIU 28) has been opened to traffic near Wilmar.
Texas: The Neuces County (Tex.)
Record Star looks at the companies competing to develop Interstate 69 in
Texas as part of the Trans-Texas Corridor concept.
Tennessee: TDOT has selected a
preferred alternative for most of Interstate 69 in West Tennessee
between Millington and Dyersburg; the preferred route largely runs to
the west of existing U.S. 51, and will truncate Interstate 155
west of Dyersburg.
TDOT's proposed 2007-09 highway plan includes numerous Interstate 69-related
projects, including preliminary engineering on SIU 8, three construction projects
on Tennessee's portion of Interstate 269 (SIU 9), and right-of-way acquisition for three portions of
I-69 in Obion County (SIU 7).
[Feb 3] The Louisiana Department of
Transportation and Development has announced the preferred alignment for I-69 between Haughton,
La. and El Dorado, Ark. (SIU 14). The Shreveport Times also carries a report.
The Indiana House of Representatives has approved an amendment to the governor's Major Moves
transportation plan that encourages (but does not require) the
governor to reroute I-69 between Evansville and Indianapolis to avoid
the SR 37 corridor southwest Marion County. The overall proposal was approved by the House on Wednesday and is expected to be
passed by the Senate in the next month.
[Jan 18] The Associated Press reports
that the Board of Supervisors of DeSoto County (Miss.) has signed an agreement with MDOT to issue bonds to accelerate
construction of 16 miles of the I-269 Memphis Outer Beltway from
I-55 in Hernando to U.S. 78 (Future I-22) in Byhalia (SIU 9). A similar bond agreement has
been used for I-69 mainline work in the western half of the county.
The Martinsville (Ind.) Reporter-Times has been
publishing a series on the impact of upgrading Indiana SR 37 to
interstate standards in Morgan County; parts one and two of the series are now online.
The Greenville (Miss.) Delta Democrat Times reports on a special public hearing scheduled for Thursday on the
proposed “I-169 connector” between Greenville and proposed
I-69 near the eastern terminus of the Great River Bridge at Benoit (SIU 12). A description of an
earlier version of the proposed route can be found at Adam Froehlig's
[Oct 14] Evansville mayor Jonathan
Weinzapfel has thrown
his support behind Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels' proposal to finance
construction of I-69 between Evansville and Indianapolis (SIU 3) with tolls. Meanwhile, the
idea of charging tolls on the part of I-69 which will overlay existing
Indiana 37 has met
with a frosty reception further north; it is unclear whether
current federal law would even permit charging tolls on an upgraded
In related news, materials from the October 11 public meeting in
Martinsville are available online.
[Sep 19] The AP reports that the
Mississippi Transportation Commission has
approved the route for I-69 SIU 11 (Benoit–Robinsonville, Miss.), preferring the
“central” alternative route. No maps of the preferred
alternative are available online at present.
[Aug 1] Congress has passed the
six-year reauthorization of the nation's surface transportation
programs (TEA-LU); the details of the legislation can be found at the U.S. House
Rules Committee website. However, the authorized expenditures
must be funded in subsequent appropriations bills for states to spend
the money on the earmarked projects (including several projects on the
Nonetheless, the bill authorizes:
- $50 million for “planning,
design, and construction” of the route in all of the “new
terrain” states on the route
- $100 million for
“design, ROW, and construction” of I-69 in Tennessee
million for I-69 in Arkansas and the Great River Bridge
- $72 million for the I-530 extension in Arkansas
(allocations of $40 million and $32 million, listed separately)
million for improvements at the Blue Water Bridge in Michigan
(allocations of $18 million and $5 million, listed separately)
million for reconstruction/widening of I-94 in Kalamazoo (SIU 27; allocations of $20
million and $8 million, listed separately)
- $35 million for
“unfinished sections” of I-69 in Mississippi
- $28.24 million
for widening of I-55/I-69 from Hernando to Memphis (SIU 9; allocations of $8 million and
$20.24 million, listed separately)
- $3 million for
the 146th St. interchange in Hamilton County (Ind.) on existing I-69
(allocations of $2.4 million and $600,000, listed separately)
- $800,000 for widening of I-69/I-240 in midtown Memphis (SIU 9)
- $2.52 million for I-269 (SR 385) in Tennessee (SIU 9)
- $11.3 million for I-69 in Obion, Dyer, Lauderdale, and Tipton
counties (Tenn.) (SIUs 7/8)
- $14 million for I-69 between Indianapolis and Evansville (SIU 3; allocations of $11.2 million
and $2.8 million, listed separately)
- $4 million for a service road along I-69 in Anderson,
Ind. (allocations of $3.2 million and $800,000, listed separately)
- $2.5 million for design and ROW acquisiton, I-69 SIU 15.
These authorizations are in addition to funds available to the
states for use on I-69 and related projects as part of their Minimum
Guarantee funding, so the states may ultimately spend a great deal
more federal money on the route over the next four years (when the
[Jul 19] A contractor's office south of Bloomington, Indiana, was vandalized
Monday morning in the latest of a string of attacks in recent
years connected to the Interstate 69 extension in southwest
Indiana. The incident included a failed attempt at arson using
multiple improvised Molotov cocktails.
[Feb 26] The DeSoto County edition of
the Commercial Appeal reports that MDOT staff members are recommending that the state transportation
commission accept a $53.8 million low bid for paving and other
work on Interstate 69 in DeSoto and Tunica counties (SIU 10), despite coming in about
16% above the initial $45 million bond issue by Tunica County.
Northern District Transportation Commissioner Bill Minor plans to vote in favor of the proposal at the commission's March
8 meeting; if the proposal is approved, construction would likely
start in April and be done by late 2006.
CA also indicates that the Marshall County Industrial
Development Authority is proposing a similar bond issue to finance
construction of a section of the Memphis Outer Loop, proposed
Interstate 269, between U.S. 78 near Byhalia and Tennessee 385 in
Collierville (SIU 9). However, such
funding will have to wait until the environmental studies for that
section are approved later this year.
[Feb 20] The DeSoto Times
Today reports that MDOT officials will open bids on the paving contract for I-69
between U.S. 61 and Interstate 55 in DeSoto County (SIU 10) on Tuesday, February 22nd.
$45 million in bonds have been issued by Tunica County to pay for the
completion of this section of highway; the bonds will be repaid by
state and federal gasoline tax funds.
[Feb 9] The Indianapolis
Star reports that on Monday, the Indianapolis City-County
Council adopted a non-binding resolution opposing plans to upgrade
Indiana 37 in southwest Indianapolis as part of the
Interstate 69 project. Highway opponents, and supporters of the
Terre Haute alternative (including the Star’s editorial board), think the resolution
may work in their favor under new governor Mitch Daniels; on the other
hand, the Evansville Courier & Press editors suggest that
the Indianapolis-area squabble may play into Daniels' hands by lending
additional support for his proposal to relocate the stretch of highway
north of Martinsville to connect to I-70 near the Indianapolis
airport, without affecting highway plans south of Martinsville.
The Courier & Press also reported that Daniels may want to finance I-69 construction in the state through tolls.
The Henderson Gleaner reported on January 20th that Owensboro officials want a I-69 spur designation for the Audubon
Parkway between Owensboro and Henderson. Upgrading the parkway would
lead to similar issues as Kentucky's plans to upgrade three parkways
as part of the I-69 mainline through the state, expected to cost
between $2 and $11 million per mile.
The Associated Press reports that the planning
commission of Dyer County (Tenn.) favors using Dyersburg's US 412
eastern bypass as part of Interstate 69 between Dyersburg and
Millington (SIU 8).
The Shreveport Times reported January 16th that a final route for I-69 around Shreveport and Bossier City would
be announced in the next two weeks; no such announcement has arrived
yet (SIU 15).
TxDOT has posted a frequently asked
questions page and a project
fact sheet and timeline to the I-69/Trans Texas Corridor Study
website. Public hearings are also scheduled for the TTC-35 corridor
component, which may overlap portions of I-69 in south Texas.
Chris will be presenting an overview of the Interstate 69 project's
history and current status at an upcoming symposium on the effects of NAFTA hosted by the Center
for Research on Women and the Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social
Change at the University of Memphis on March 26th.
[Dec 1] The Memphis Commercial
Appeal reports that the Mississippi and Tennessee departments
of transportation have decided on the alignments for I-69 and I-269 in the Memphis
area (SIU 9); I-69 will follow the
western A-1 alternative between Frayser and Millington, while I-269
will follow the middle B-1 alternative across southern DeSoto County
and western Marshall County to Collierville. TDOT's press release includes
essentially the same information. The next stage of the project
will be the preparation of a final environmental impact statement
(FEIS) for approval by the Federal Highway Administration.
[Jun 28] The Greenville, Miss.,
Delta Democrat Times carries an editorial on the long-running feud between Bolivar and Washington
counties over the routing of I-69 in the Mississippi Delta.
[Jun 26] The Southwest Perry
Civic Association plans to protest the I-69 proposal at a series of meetings on the
Indianapolis comprehensive plan, according to the Indianapolis
[Jun 24] The Pine Bluff
Commercial reports on the signing of the final federal Record of Decision on the Great
River Bridge project, SIU 12 of
the national I-69 corridor.
The DeSoto Times Today carries reaction by state transportation commissioner Bill Minor to
DeSoto County's plan to build a school in the path of proposed I-269
in southeast DeSoto County.
[Jun 21] The Memphis Commercial
Appeal has an article on the environmental impact of the systems approach
alternative to I-69 in the Memphis area (SIU 9).
[Jun 14] The Evansville Courier
& Press reports on the opening of regional study offices along I-69 SIU 3 in southwest Indiana.
TDOT has posted all of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for
SIU 9 (Memphis) to its website, along with a copy of their latest project newsletter. Comments on the DEIS will be accepted
through August 12.
I have reorganized the information on
Interstate 69 in Texas to appear on a single page, to reflect the
unified approach TxDOT is taking with its study of the route, which
may result in changes to the existing Texas SIU boundaries.
[Jun 10] The DeSoto Times
reports that the proposed location of the DeSoto South school campus in DeSoto
County, Miss., is directly in the path of the proposed I-269 outer
loop. A similar report appears in the Memphis Commercial Appeal.
The DeSoto Times also previews the upcoming public meetings on Interstate 69 and
Interstate 269 in the Memphis area.
The Indiana portion of I-69 was highlighted
by Taxpayers for Common Sense as one of “the 27 Most
Wasteful Road Projects in America.”
[Apr 19] The Associated Press reports
that the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department has opened
bids for the first portion of the Southeast Arkansas I-69 Connector
(I-530 Extension), SIU 28 of
the national corridor. This project will build an 4.5 mile, 2-lane
facility between Ark. 35 and U.S. 278 west of Monticello, at a cost of
$11 million. Work at the Pine Bluff end of the project (connecting to
existing I-530) is expected to be let in the near future.
The AP also reports that a new group, “Hoosier Voices for
I-69”, is being
formed by business and organized labor to push for the I-69
project to be completed in Indiana.
The Corpus Christi Caller-Times looks ahead to this week's meetings on the I-69 element of the
Trans Texas Corridor in George West and Kingsville.
[Apr 13] The Hoosier Environmental
Council claims the I-69 route selection process in Indiana was
“rigged,” due to $150,000 in grants that were given to the I-69 Mid-Continent
Highway Coalition by state and local government in Indiana; the
non-profit group (not to be confused with the I-69 National Steering
Committee), which includes local officials from the communities
along the I-69 corridor in several states, supported the direct (3C)
route for I-69 in Indiana.
Last Wednesday's Indianapolis Star included an op-ed
by Dan Carpenter opposing the direct route, arguing (in part) that the route will
contribute to the job drain to Mexico he attributes to NAFTA. For
good measure, he also says “No amount of pavement seems likely
to save Evansville.”
(Thanks to Terry Record and John Smith for the article links.)
[Apr 8] Them's fightin' words:
Bloomington city council member Andy Ruff calls INDOT Commissioner
J. Bryan Nicol a “young punk bureaucrat political wannabe”
Indiana Daily Student article on the I-69 extension in
The Tyler (Tex.) Morning Telegraph reports on low turnout at a public meeting on TxDOT's Trans Texas Corridor
plan and interviews the proprietors of CorridorWatch.org.
[Apr 4] Two Indianapolis
Star editorial writers face off on I-69: op-ed page editor Tim
a U.S. 41 route would have been preferable, while writer James
Patterson supports the "direct" route.
The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette approves of the direct I-69 route in an editorial.
[Apr 1] No foolin': the final
environmental impact statement for the Great River Bridge portion of
I-69, SIU 12, has been
released, and is available at NationalI69.org. Public comments will be accepted
through May 3, 2004. The Jackson (Miss.) Clarion-Ledger
indicates that the EIS for SIU 11 between Benoit and
Robinsonville, Miss. will be complete sometime this year.
[Mar 30] The Federal Highway
Administration (FHWA) has approved the Tier 1 Final Environmental Impact Statement for I-69
SIU 3 between Evansville and
Indianapolis, according to the Indianapolis Star and
other media outlets. The complete Record of Decision (ROD) is
available at the
study website. Another account is in the Evansville Courier & Press
[Mar 28] The Evansville Courier
& Press profiles INDOT Commissioner J. Bryan Nicol, who is at the center of the
state's I-69 routing controversy.
[Mar 26] Zoning along the I-269
corridor in Marshall County (Miss.) was considered by the county Board of Supervisors at its most
recent meeting, according to the Holly Springs South
Reporter. (SIU 9)
Construction of I-69 and I-269 is part of the long-range transportation plan approved by the Memphis
Metropolitan Planning Organization, according to the DeSoto
Times. The paper also reports that April's meeting of the DeSoto Citizens for Growth
will feature a presentation on I-69 from Jim McDougal, assistant
planner and director of transportation for DeSoto County. The meeting
is open to the public, and is scheduled for Monday, April 1, at 6:45
p.m. at the Hernando Public Library.
The Pine Bluff (Ark.) Commercial notes that both the
I-530 extension and I-69 in southeast Arkansas were topics
of discussion at a regional hearing on the state's 2003 Highway
Needs Study. (SIUs 13 and 28)
The Henderson (Ky.) Gleaner argues for a return to traditional public hearing formats, in response to
citizen complaints about the hybrid format used in the public hearing
on the I-69 draft environmental impact statement for the
Henderson-Evansville segment of the route. The paper (and its sister
paper, the Evansville Courier & Press) also has
reports on the Evansville and Henderson meetings. (SIU 4)
The Hopkinsville Kentucky New Era indicates that
community officials want to encourage planners to have I-69 follow the existing Breathitt
(Pennyrile) Parkway between Henderson and the Ford (Western
Kentucky) Parkway. (SIU 5)
Texas transportation commissioner Esperanza "Hope" Andrade says
Texas doesn't have enough money to build Interstate 69 between the Rio
Grande Valley and I-37 without using tolls, according to the
Valley Morning Star.
[Mar 11] The DeSoto Times
wonders if the proposed FedEx Ground hub in Olive Branch, Miss.,
will help get I-269 off the ground.
[Mar 6] FHWA's March 2004
“Successes in Streamlining” newsletter features a
discussion of TxDOT's I-69/Trans-Texas Corridor planning process manual.
[Feb 28] I-69 opponents in Indiana
claim the state has ignored the presence of karst features in its study of the route,
according to the Indianapolis Star.
Millington (Tenn.) residents are concerned that the construction of
Interstate 69 in the area may lead to flooding, according to the Memphis
The Gleaner (Henderson, Ky.) reports that an area
subdivision is planned to be built in the middle of the preferred corridor for I-69
east of the city.
DeSoto County (Miss.) planners are considering future zoning along the I-69/I-269 corridor in the county,
according to the DeSoto Times.
[Feb 26] The Memphis Regional Chamber
has formed the Regional Logistics Council to plan to improve the
area's infrastructure to attract development, according to this week's
Memphis Business Journal.
[Feb 23] The Princeton (Ky.)
Times Leader reports on the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet’s new Six-Year Highway Plan
proposal; according to the paper, upgrading the existing Western
Kentucky (Wendell Ford), Pennyrile (Breathitt), and Purchase (Carroll)
parkways to current Interstate standards for inclusion in I-69 will
cost over $700 million. The complete proposed plan can be accessed at
website. (SIU 5 and SIU 6)
[Feb 17] The Indiana Hardwood
Lumbermen's Association and environmental groups have joined forces in opposition to the “new terrain”
route for I-69 in Indiana, according to the AP.
Republican Randy Harris has dropped out of the Indiana gubernatorial sweepstakes, leaving
three men vying for the Republican nod to face incumbent Democrat Joe
Kernan. Harris is a supporter of the direct I-69 route.
[Feb 13] Indiana gubernatorial hopeful
Mitch Daniels' ever-shifting position on Interstate 69 is now
full-fledged support, according to the Princeton Daily
Clarion; the article states:
Daniels says he supports a direct Interstate 69 route
to Indianapolis, and wants to see the work begin. "I can't stand the
thought of taking 14 years to do it. I want to speed it up. It's going
to eat up most of the money for the rest of the roads...we should
build it and build it faster." Daniels said he supports starting the
Indiana work from the southern end, but would like to find ways to
save some money or tap other revenue sources.
"We're going to be at this for years," he said. "If there's a
slightly better way to do it, I'd like to explore it. It might be
politically smart to just say 'aye-aye', but I just want to build the
thing, not promise it. The plan as it sits there has some
According to the article, Daniels also favors moving all of Indiana
into the Central time zone.
In other gubernatorial news, fellow Republican candidate Eric
the proposed route is too costly, according to the
The Evansville Courier and Press interviews a number
of the homeowners whose property will be taken by the preferred I-69
alternative between Evansville and Henderson. The same paper carries
an editorial calling the decision to support an east-side route
sound, and which argues that community leaders can now devote their
full attention to keeping the Evansville-to-Indianapolis portion of
the project on-track.
[Feb 11] The Evansville Courier
& Press is among those reporting that Indiana and Kentucky have agreed on an eastern route for I-69 around
Evansville and Henderson as the preferred alternative (SIU 4), as most observers had
expected. Public hearings on the preferred alternative are planned
for mid-March. The full draft environmental impact statement is
available at the
The Courier & Press also reports that plans for an industrial park just north of the proposed I-64/I-69
interchange northeast of Evansville in Warrick County are afoot.
Mississippi Department of Transportation District 2 engineer Jimmy
Dickerson spoke to the Olive Branch (Miss.) Rotary Club Tuesday about
highway construction in northwest Mississippi, including the I-69
project. Dickerson said that contracts for paving I-69 from U.S. 61
to I-55 were currently being prepared by MDOT; upcoming plans include
the construction of the first phase of the I-55 widening project from
the I-69 interchange to the Tennessee state line, improvements to
U.S. 78 so it can be designated as part of future Interstate 22, and
the planning and eventual construction of the proposed I-269 Memphis
[Feb 7] The latest salvo in the Indiana
I-69 fight is an attack on the state's economic study, according to the
The Longview News-Journal reports that U.S. Sen. John
Cornyn considers the I-69 corridor a priority for funding in Texas.
[Feb 4] Both the Evansville Courier & Press and the Associated Press report that environmental groups are
charging that the Indiana Department of Natural Resources revised its
initial evaluation in June 2002 that proposed corridors 3 and 5 of
I-69 SIU 3
(Evansville–Indianapolis) were “ecologically
unacceptable.” DNR officials state that the earlier evaluation
was withdrawn because it was not approved by senior staff at the
agency, contrary to DNR policy. (Thanks to Marc Fannin for forwarding
the AP report.)
The AP also reports that how
the I-69 project in Indiana will be funded remains in question, as
the six-year transportation reauthorization bill is held up in
Washington due to divisions in Congress and with President Bush over potentially
raising the federal gasoline tax; Indiana's state funding for such
a large undertaking is also limited.
[Jan 30] The Indianapolis
Star's Dan McFeely reports that the end of the public comment period for SIU 3
(Evansville-Indianapolis) ends on Monday.
Comments may be made online at
the project website or by calling toll-free 1-877-463-9386.
(Incidentally, comments intended for the public record should
not be sent to this website, although I'm always happy to
hear from I69Info.com readers.)
Arkansas transportation planners are considering how to fund highway construction in that state over the
next decade, and are facing an anticipated $11.8 billion shortfall
over that period, according to the Paragould Daily Press.
The Tennessee Department of Transportation will hold an informal
public meeting on the widening of existing I-240 (future I-69) in
Memphis between the I-40 Midtown interchange and the I-240/55
interchange on Thursday, 4 March 2004, starting at 5:00 p.m. at
Mississippi Blvd. Christian Church, 70 North Bellevue Blvd. For more
details, see the public meeting notice.
[Jan 23] I've updated the FY2004 funding table for I-69-related
projects to reflect the final version of the Omnibus Appropriations Bill, which was approved by the Senate on
Thursday, January 22nd, and passed into law on Friday, January 23rd.
[Jan 21] I-69 opponents turned
out in force for a forum with state legislatures organized by the
Indianapolis Star, according to a report in that
[Jan 17] A preferred corridor has
been announced for I-69 SIU 14
(Shreveport, La.–El Dorado, Ark.); the next step will be
developing alignment alternatives within the preferred corridor.
Extensive coverage of the decision appears in the Shreveport Times.
The article also indicates an alignment has been selected for SIU 15, but an announcement is likely
to be delayed due to the Louisiana gubernatorial transition.
The Evansville Courier & Press editorial page opposes extending the February 2nd comments deadline for the
SIU 3 FEIS.
[Jan 15] The Evansville Courier
& Press reports that the Hoosier Environmental Council has been raising funds for a
federal lawsuit against the I-69 environmental study in Indiana
since November; the group is currently short of its goal of raising
$100,000 to fight the anticipated decision by the Federal Highway
Administration to approve the state's final environmental impact
statement on the project for SIU 3.
The same group is also asking for the 47-day public comment period on the FEIS to
be extended. Also on SIU 3: the FEIS includes plans for four rest areas and noise barriers along
the I-69 route.
The FY2004 omnibus appropriations bill, which has yet to be
approved by Congress—despite the fact FY2004 started October 1,
2003—includes nearly $6 million in earmarked funding for paving I-69 SIU 10 between Robinsonville and
Hernando, Miss. Also on SIU 10: the DeSoto Times
Today looks at planning efforts to avoid “sprawl” along the route in
the Hernando area.
The Jacksonville (Tex.) Daily Progress reports on confusion resulting from both U.S. 69 and I-69 projects being planned
in that state. I-69 will closely follow U.S. 59 in Texas, and the
two routes (proposed I-69 and U.S. 69) intersect in Lufkin. Although
Texas does permit duplication in route numbers, it is against federal
guidelines for an Interstate and U.S. highway to share the same number
in a state.
The Alliance for I-69 Texas
has appointed Corpus Christi's Mark Scott to its board of directors,
and Harris County Judge Robert Eckels as its chairman, according to
the Corpus Christi Caller-Times.
The Williamson County Review Appeal has an interview
with TDOT Commissioner Gerald Nicely that briefly mentions I-69 as
one of the few “big” projects TDOT is likely to undertake
in the future.