Interstate 69

Corridor 18/20 Progres Updates

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The Route

Interstate 69 currently exists in two discontinuous sections. The northern section runs from the Blue River Bridge at the Canadian Border in Port Huron, Michigan. It heads west to Flint, Michigan before turning southwest to Lansing. From Lansing, I-69 turns south toward Fort Wayne, Indiana. From Fort Wayne it heads south-southwest to near Anderson, Indiana. Interstate 69 turns west-southwest at Anderson amd terminates at the I-465/IN-37/Binford Boulevard interchange on the northeast side of Indianapolis, Indiana. The southern section currently exists from Interstate 55 near Hernando, Mississippi to MS-713 near Banks, Mississippi. The Michigan/Indiana section is 360 miles in length and is the original section of I-69 built between 1956 and 1992. The 18-mile section in northern Mississippi opened in 2006 and is the first section of an extension that will eventually connect Indianapolis with Laredo, Texas.

History of Interstate 69

The section of I-69 between Indianapolis and the Indiana East-West Toll Road (I-80/I-90) was part of the original Interstate Highway System when the routes were established in 1956. Supplemental Interstate highway bills in the 1960s and 1970s extended I-69 north from the ITR to I-94 in Lansing, Michigan, and northeast to Port Huron.

The State of Indiana had planned to extend I-69 southwest from Indianapolis to Evansville since the 1960s, and various proposals to build the highway extension have fallen victim to opposition from environmental groups, political infighting, and a lack of funds for construction. The latest proposal to extend I-69 to Evansville emerged before federal legislation, known as the Intermodal Surface and Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA), was signed by then-President Bill Clinton in 1993 establishing High-Priority Corridor 18 between Port Huron and Memphis, Tennessee.

Additional federal legislation enacted in 1998, known as TEA-21, established High-Priority Corridor 20, running from Memphis, Tennessee to the Mexican Border at Laredo, Texas. That same legislation combined Corridors 18 and 20 under the common proposed designation: Interstate 69.

Corridors 18 and 20 were further divided into 32 Segments of Independent Utility (SIU). Twenty-six SIUs represent the I-69 mainline, while the remaining six segments are routes that branch off of I-69. Mississippi has a program known as Highway Enhancements Through Local Partnerships (HELP), where counties issue bonds to the Mississippi Department of Transportation to expedite road construction. The counties are then reimbursed when federal funds are received by the state. Through the HELP program, Mississippi began construction in 2001 on a 18-mile segment of I-69 between Interstate 55 in Hernando and MS-3/MS-713 near Banks. MDOT had already planned to build this freeway as the MS-304 Tunica Bypass. When the I-69 corridor through the area was established in 1998, MDOT and the AASHTO agreed to route SIU 10 of I-69 on the MS-304 Bypass. Construction on SIU-10 began in 2001. Segment 10 of I-69 opened on October 3, 2006. It is co-signed as both I-69 and MS-304 to the MS-304/MS-713 interchange. Interstate 69 then leaves the MS-304 Bypass and turns south, co-signed with MS-713 to its present terminus at MS-3 in Banks. MS-713 continues southwest from Banks as a 4-lane surface road to US-61 south of Tunica.

Future of Interstate 69

Of the 32 SIUs that make up the I-69 corridor, two are open at interstate standards and signed as I-69 (SIUs 1, 10). Two more segments (SIUs 2, 27) are open at interstate standards, but not signed as I-69 (signed as I-465 and I-94, respectively). Two additional segments through Kentucky (SIUs 5, 6) are freeways open to traffic, but not at interstate standards. Construction is underway on two segments in Mississippi, Tennessee, and Arkansas (SIUs 9, 28). Federal officials have issued Records of Decision approving the EISs for four segments in Tennessee, Mississippi, and Arkansas (SIUs 7, 11, 12, 13). Indiana and Kentucky officials are preparing the final EIS for SIU 4, which includes a new bridge over the Ohio River. Tennessee, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas transportation plannes are preparing the draft EISs for four four additional segments (SIUs 8, 14, 15, 16). Texas is preparing Tier 1 draft EISs for Segments 17 through 26 and SIUs 30-32 as part of the Trans-Texas Corridor program. SIU 3 in southwest Indiana has been divided into six smaller segments for Tier 2 environmental studies. A Record of Decision has been issued on the 13-mile Section 1, the southernmost portion of SIU-3; construction is scheduled to begin on Section 1 in 2008. The remaining five sections of SIU 3 are in the Tier 2 Draft EIS process.

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