(BLOOMINGTON) - A construction project designed to make travel easier for Hoosier motorists on Interstate 69 stirred controversy on Tuesday among residents of Bloomington and Martinsville.
Indiana Department of Transportation officials discussed four options to extend I-69 from southern Bloomington to southern Martinsville in front of more than 200 concerned Hoosiers.
Citizens for the Appropriate Rural Roads said they've been opposed to the I-69 project for the past two decades.
"Our group, CARR, has been opposed to Interstate 69 for over 20 years, and we are still opposed to it. We think it is terribly environmentally destructive," said member Tom Tokarski.
Hoosiers opposing the construction said they're concerned about the amount of land the project will take up.
"The project will take over 4,000 acres of some of the best farm grounds in the state and pave it over," Tokarski said.
INDOT officials said they would try to make the project work in the favor for Hoosiers debating both sides of the construction.
"We are thrilled to see this many people taking an interest in the project and giving up positive feedback to make this a roadway that's viable for all parties involved," said INDOT Spokeswoman Cher Elliot.
Many Hoosiers opposing the project said they could lose property in the construction.
"I-69 is coming. They're going to build it and the reality is, there's going to be people like myself who will be negatively affected," one resident said.
A few Hoosiers were in favor of the expansion.
"I think there's a greater good here. Southern Indiana is one of the poorer parts of the state. This road will open it up," said one resident.
Indiana University finance professor Charles Trzcinka agreed.
"(Indiana University) is the only university without access to an interstate. The only Big Ten school without access to an interstate," Trzcinka said. "The reason why I support it is I think it's going to have a big impact on the productivity of the people in Bloomington. Basically, Bloomington has a large labor force of highly educated people that are going to be able to compete."
INDOT officials said the expansion is still in the planning stages and at the earliest construction won't begin until 2013.
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