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Monroe County Land Plan Identifies Sensitive Karst Area

The Monroe County Land Plan released this week says the county should preserve karst topography through which I-69 is supposed to be built.

Monroe County Karst Area

Photo: Indiana Public Media News

Monroe County has a large section of karst topography southwest of Bloomington.

The Monroe County Commissioners are set to vote next Friday on the latest version of the county’s land use plan, and officials say it contains some careful language relating to Interstate 69.

Plan Commission member and Commissioner Mark Stoops says while the document mentions the highway in its transportation section, it does not devote more than a couple paragraphs to the road.

“If they mention I-69 in a public document, INDOT will use that as endorsement to Federal Highway [Administration],” he says. “They’ll say ‘look, Monroe County has I-69 in their comprehensive plan, they’re prepared for it.’ And of course that doesn’t mean we endorse it.”

But later in the document, a section on land use policies makes clear the county plans to preserve its karst topography – areas of bedrock made up of limestone which feature sinkholes and unstable rock. A map in the plan shows a heavy concentration of karst on the city’s southwest side – an area Stoops says has been designated for I-69.

“I-69 goes thru some of the most heavily pock-marked karst areas in the county,” he says.

Stoops says it is not a direct message to Indiana Department of Transportation officials that the county wants to re-route or stop I-69, but concedes that message is clear in other documents authored by county leaders. Metropolitan Plan Commission member Richard Martin says it is a message to INDOT that more study of the area must be done.

“They don’t spend as much time understanding the consequences of the disruption of the karst feature as we require,” he says. “They’re more concerned with the management of them as they are building the road.”

Stoops says he expects the commissioners to approve plan at their next meeting.

Stan Jastrzebski

WFIU/WTIU News Senior Editor Stan Jastrzebski spent time as a reporter with WGN Radio in Chicago and as an editor at Network Indiana, an Indianapolis news service. Stan is the winner of awards from the Associated Press, the RTDNA, the Indiana Broadcasters Association and the Society of Professional Journalists. He hosts WFIU's Ask the Mayor and anchors WTIU's InFocus.

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