It is still unclear whether I-69 will be included in Monroe County’s Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP). The Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) voted this afternoon to table the vote on including I-69 in its 2012-2015 TIP.
Hundreds of people filled the Council Chambers of City Hall for the meeting, including mayors of many surrounding cities, environmental groups, and representatives from Bloomington’s business community.
The 13 member panel voted on an amendment proposed by INDOT Representative Jim Stark and supported by Mayor Mark Kruzan, which will not only postpone a vote until November, but will also create a new six person panel to work directly with INDOT to clear up unanswered questions about the local TIP’s relationship with state and federal agencies.
The panel will consist entirely of current MPO members, and will submit questions directly to INDOT, which must be answered by a set date. The new panel will then vote on including I-69 in the MPO’s TIP in early November.
According to Stark, this will allow the panel to receive a response to many of its unanswered questions.
“The mayor reached out today,” he said, “and asked us to extend this because there were a lot of questions from everybody today that hadn’t been answered yet, and I think this is the best plan to get those questions answered.”
County Commissioner Mark Stoops, who will sit on the new panel, questions the point of the delay.
“I don’t believe,” he said, “there are any questions that INDOT needs to answer that they have not already answered. I guess my real concern is that it doesn’t really matter what INDOT guarantees to us, or the way they answer questions about what’s going to happen.”
A representative with the Federal Highway Administration says his agency only recognizes the MPO’s 2010-2013 TIP, which DOES include I-69. INDOT has not approved the local TIP for 2012-2015, which is the one that does not currently include I-69.