INDOT Defends I-69 Mitigation Efforts

INDOT is spending $30 million on environmental mitigation in Section 4 of I-69, which runs from the Crane Naval Base to Bloomington.

INDOT Trees

Photo: Jimmy Jenkins

INDOT has mitigated several wetland areas near the I-69 foot print like this area near the Martin State Forest

The Indiana Department of Transportation is moving forward with construction of I-69 from Crane to Bloomington. Part of the process involves extensive environmental mitigation.

INDOT invited the press to tour some of its environmental mitigation sites in Greene County on Thursday. By law the state must mitigate land on a 3 to 1 ratio. That means in section 4 where 1,100 acres have been destroyed for I-69 construction, the state is required to mitigate 3,300 acres.

INDOT Spokesman Will Wingfield says his department is exceeding that number. “Normally when you impact a forested area, you replant on a one to one ratio,” Wingfield said. “Because this is a habitat for the brown bat, we did that on a three to one ratio and that’s why there’s so much more land that has been purchased either as conservation easements or outright for the mitigation.”

INDOT is spending more than $77 million on mitigation – nearly half of that is in section 4, which runs from Crane to Bloomington. The goal is to return the property to its natural state before agricultural development changed the landscape.

In addition to planting trees, INDOT has also acquired and preserved wetland areas as well as cave formations that are home to the endangered Indiana Bat.

However, Citizens for Appropriate Rural Roads co-founder Thomas Tokarski says the damage done by I-69 can never be truly mitigated. “We know that a lot of the mitigation sites are going to be located directly next to the highway itself which means they’re degraded from the start,” Tokarski said. “And so there’s no way that these sites – they’re feel good measures for the regulatory agencies, but in terms of making up for the destruction of the project, it simply will not do it.”

The first 67 miles of I-69 from Evansville to Crane opened in November. Section 4 is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2014.

Jimmy Jenkins

Jimmy Jenkins is a multimedia journalist for WFIU and WTIU news. A native of Terre Haute, he is a masters student at the Indiana University School of Journalism and is proud to be a part of the public broadcasting stations he listened to and watched since he was a child. Follow him on Twitter @newsjunkyjimmy.

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  • Jack_M_eoph

    Around 30 years ago there was a great exchange of properties belonging to Rogers Group, IMI (Irving Materials), American Aggregates and others in the vicinity of the expected route of I69 from Indianapolis to Evansville. These properties were mainly stone/gravel quarries and concrete plants. If there were actually investigative journalists around still, this would be more common knowledge.

    Projects of this type have one purpose only, to enrich powerful interests. This holds true whether constructing the road or mitigating ground.

    It took a long time and those who stood to benefit have had to apply a lot of ‘grease’ all these years. They were getting pretty fed up. Some of the interested parties sold their interest, but they finally put a little guy into the governors mansion who could ram this thing through & he did.

    The harvest is on and whatever it looks like on the surface, it is always a harvest.
    This is not the free market, it’s amerikan capitalism, love it or leave it!

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