(BLOOMINGTON) - Bloomington transportation officials have postponed a decision until March about whether to include the Interstate 69 project in their transportation improvement plan.
The decision was announced Friday by the Bloomington/Monroe County Metropolitan Planning Organization's policy committee.
I-69 Subcommittee Chairman Richard Martin says the additional time would allow the committee to address remaining questions regarding the interstate construction project. The vote has been delayed since November 2011. He says the committee will then be able to make an informed decision on the issue.
Although he ultimately voted to postpone the decision, City Councilman Andy Ruff expressed concerns with the additional extension and the Indiana Department of Transportation's proceedings. He says INDOT should stop all activity on section 4 until the committee takes action.
I-69 has been a controversial issue for more than two decades. The construction process is divided into five sections between Evansville and Indianapolis. The MPO has jurisdiction of a 1.7-mile stretch.
For the Indiana Department of Transportation to build the interstate in Monroe County, it must receive consent from the MPO to obtain federal funding.
If the MPO votes to exclude I-69 from its transportation plans, INDOT could deny transportation funds to the MPO for local projects, ranging from road repairs to bus operations.
Although a specific date for the meeting was not made, a March 9th MPO special meeting was suggested.
MPO members will take public comment during that meeting, but Ruff says police will need to be present because of the controversy.
During a six-hour MPO meeting last year, several policy committee members say the meeting got out of hand.
Jim Stark of INDOT claims he was verbally attacked by community members.
For the meeting in March, the policy committee plans to include two podiums, one for community members in support of I-69 and one for those in opposition, which it believes will better allow the committee to hear both sides of the issue.
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