This is intended to be a report of the information, as well as a place that you can visit for updates over the years of the project. This will be a long article and I will link out to the resources that are available from INDOT and Johnson County.
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Overview of the I-69 Project
The I-69 Corridor Project Section 6, from Martinsville to I-465, is in final stages of approval with a projected construction start of 2020 and finish of 2024. Phases are as follows:
Section 6.1 – Martinsville just south of Indian Creek to one mile north of S.R. 44
Section 6.2 – One mile north of S.R. 44 to Henderson Ford Road
Section 6.3 – Henderson Ford Road to one mile south of C.R. 144
Section 6.4 – One mile south of C.R. 144 to ½ mile north of Wicker Road
Section 6.5 – ½ mile north of Wicker Road to I-465
Map of the Section from C.R. 144 to Smith Valley Road. Click the photo to open the photo on INDOTs website larger to view details.
I-69 Section 6 is in final design and construction starts soon. Things you might need to know ongoing is:
- Look at the maps to see what land is being purchased and what businesses are affected. Find Maps on the INDOT website here.
- Keep up with the construction and how it impacts traffic in your area: i.e. detours and cone zones. Find updates on the project here.
From INDOT: “The total cost of I-69 Section 6 is approximately $1.5 billion. The project is fully funded through Gov. Holcomb’s Next Level road funding plan and by additional funds provided by the truck toll increase on the Indiana Toll Road.”
Information and updates to this post will focus on Section 6.4, the Johnson County phase.
January 17th Meeting Update
On January 17th, 2019, I attended the I-69 Project Community Conversation meeting at Center Grove High School. I also attended an informational meeting that was held at the White River Township Library last summer.
At the meeting we heard from INDOT, a consulting firm hired by Johnson County, and a Purdue University Economics Professor.
Purpose of the Meeting
With the I-69 project being close to finalization, the purpose for the meeting was to inform the residents of Johnson County about the future needs, challenges and economic opportunities that I-69 will bring to the community, to present the plans that are being made, and give the community an opportunity to ask questions.
Johnson County Planning previously hired an Engineering Consulting firm to study the project and prepare a document to use as a guide for future comprehensive planning. Chris Hamm, Senior Planner of HWC Engineering spoke at the meeting. He emphasized implementing a “Corridor System” and the need for east/west and north/south primary arterial roads.
After extensive studies of current and projected levels of traffic, HWC has prioritized a list of traffic improvement projects, top three being Smith Valley, Morgantown Road and S.R. 144. Hamm says, “Key is to effectively and efficiently move traffic through White River Township given less access to 37/I69.”
The most immediate needs are in the north. One big challenge is that NO ONE ENTITY manages this…two counties, Indianapolis, Bargersville, Indiana State…this requires multi-jurisdictional cooperation, collaboration and coordination.
In addition to transportation, HWC has formulated detailed plans concerning the opportunities that I-69 presents for econonomic development. They have prepared maps for projected land use and zoning options for future development.
The plan that HWC provided to Johnson County is officially called the Johnson County Corridor Plan and you can read the 216-page document here: Johnson County Corridor Plan.
And last, in their plan they have outlined next steps for the county and residents to focus on.
The Costs of Economic Change
I-69 is paid for, and it is coming. But it creates some challenges for Johnson County that we have to address, and find funding for. So, to be clear, all the road upgrades, land use plans, development, trails plans…these are all things that have to be paid for outside of the I-69 project and there is currently no funds dedicated to these projects outside of a few long-term state and city road plans (plans currently too far into the future to help).
We heard from Dr. Larry DeBoer of Purdue at the meeting, who studies and researches Economics at the State and Local levels. He presented funding options for the expected transportation and economic development. These options included raising taxes, using TIFs or Impact Fees. He explained the pros and cons of each. It is hoped that the Johnson County and Bargersville can first find other sources of funding that include: INDOT, MPO and other State funding programs.
Dr. DeBoer mentioned that Johnson County has one of the lowest income rate in Indiana and it is one of the 10-12 counties with the lowest income tax rates. He said that a 1 quarter of 1 percent increase in income tax for Johnson County would equal $40 million per year.
Questions from Residents
Cards were provided and residents could submit questions throughout the meeting. Some concerns were answered during the presentation.
Questions were centered on:
- I-69 Timeline – when does construction begin and end and when will they be working on the Johnson County section
- I-69 Design – heavy concern about access roads along the east side of the interstate, concerns about property affected, floodplains and sound barriers
- I-69 Construction – questions about possible full shut down of sections, detours, cone zones and options
- Johnson County Traffic – many questions about plans to widen all the main arterials in White River Township
- Johnson County Development
- INDOT plans for State Roads in the area
- Next Steps
MOST of the questions regarding Johnson County Traffic plans are answered in the Corridor plan.
Action Steps from the Meeting
The meeting did not give us an action plan because it was focused on just getting information out. But through my reading and understanding of the project, I am compiling that information and will describe what is next below.
Next Steps in the Johnson County Corridor Plan
The beginning of the Johnson County Corridor Plan document indicates that both Johnson County and Bargersville government planning leaders have officially approved the document to be adopted into the Comprehensive Plans for both entities. This was done in December of 2018.
First and foremost are the road infrastructure projects. Following is a table from page 164 of the Corridor Plan that outlines the Transportation Network Improvement Projects by priority (click the image to enlarge it):
In addition to the infrastructure projects, the following is an additional list of priority issues that HWC indicated are on the short list for the near future.
- Update the comprehensive plan with a revised corridor overlay plan.
- Formulate a Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Trail Plan
- Formulate an Access Management Program to control stops, turns and curb cuts, and develop frontage roads.
- Require a Traffic Impact Study for new developments.
- Consider Traffic Impact Fees for new developments.
- Update Zoning Ordinance and Subdivision Control
- Allow a mix of uses and densities within major corridors to maximize the economic development potential
- Consider adjusting all speed limits to be consistent along major corridors
- Coordinate storm water discussions with INDOT as part of the I-69 project
- Provide the area around the CR 144 interchange with sewer utility services infrastructure.
- Have discussions with INDOT about the addition of an east side frontage road to the I-69 plan.
- Work with INDOT and the MPO to complete a special study of the S.R. 135 Corridor to maintain functionality with improvements and access management.
- Formalize a preferred option for a main east/west regional connector corridor.
- Finish up negotiations with INDOT on Interchange aesthetics.
You will find detailed notes on each of these next steps starting on page 172 of the Corridor document.
Regarding possible funding, HWC states: “Given the scope of work for the transportation network improvements in White River Township necessary to accommodate projected future growth and the impacts of the I-69 project, no single funding source would be able to finance all of the work. With this in mind, it will be important for county officials to aggressively pursue funding alternatives to support local projects.” Following are their recommendations for seeking funding:
- Approach INDOT during the final stages of design to influence them toward our needs. It is possible that we could get INDOT to include an eastern frontage road as part of their project and we need to be in talks to make that happen. This would alleviate some traffic problems that would be Johnson Counties problem to solve if INDOT does not implement them.
- Approach the Indianapolis Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) to influence them to use funds they have earmarked for future road improvements in Johnson County specifically toward the Corridor Plan. MPO projects require a 20% match from local entities, so there would still be local funding needed.
- Approach INDOT to provide funding that is outside the I-69 project. Johnson County needs to be in ongoing talks with INDOT to influence them to use funds to help us with our unique and overwhelming traffic upgrade needs in the coming 10 years.
- Work on applying to form some TIF districts. HWC states, “Bargersville has already taken steps to implement a TIF area over the future interchange at CR 144. Similar consideration should be given the opportunities that TIF may provide along other major corridors such as SR 135, Whiteland Road, Smith Valley Road and Morgantown Road. While roads are not the only elements of infrastructure needed to support community growth and economic development in White River Township, TIF districts are one option to be able to partially support needed transportation improvements.”
- The local government should be leveraging all forms of state and federal funding available for transportation infrastructure.
- Explore imposing Road Impact Fees on developers.
It is unlikely that the needed improvements can be completed without significant local funds. While TIFs and Impact Fees are local, additional taxation methods will be considered. Options include Income Taxes, Property Taxes and Wheel Tax.
The cost analysis for each road project and funding alternatives mentioned above are explained fully in the Corridor Plan starting on page 167.
HOW TO BE INVOLVED
While I-69 is completely funded, with it we inherit some issues which can either be big problems or great opportunities. The purpose of planning is to identify potential problems and turn them into opportunities that serve the people.
In order to serve the people, the people have to have a voice. That is what we need going forward…people who will be active in helping our government leaders to achieve a win-win for all residents. I am happy that Johnson County and Bargersville have been making plans, and it is now time for implementation. They are going to need to hear from us in order to make priorities and to understand needs. I feel like they are trying to involve the community in the process, so we should be active in helping them move forward.
And that means that we need to be aware of each part of the plan and help to influence how it gets implemented. You can be sure that the Priority and Funding Issues above are the first line of business, so if you have thoughts on those action steps, now is the time to speak up and help to make these issues have a positive result for our community!
CONCERNING FUTURE community communication
These are the things I would like to see Johnson County and Bargersville Government do to promote openness in the process and concern for resident needs:
- Have community meetings with clear purpose: what we need to know, why, and what is next
- Provide Action steps for residents at the meetings and ways they can get involved
- Use Google surveys on specific projects to gather community feedback, and publish follow-up results of surveys for the public to view
- Develop a way for residents to submit their open comments and concerns on an ongoing basis and have someone who will follow-up with concerns submitted
DO YOU HAVE QUESTIONS?
If you have questions specifically concerning I-69, you can visit the INDOT website and submit your concern there, or call 855indot4u (855-463-6848).
If your questions or concerns relate to Johnson County Transportation or Development, read and refer to the Johnson County Corridor Plan. Use that as a reference for your particular concerns. It will answer a lot!
Beyond that, contact your government officials in Johnson County and Bargersville.
Commissioners (click to JoCo website for contact info): Brian Baird, Kevin Walls, Ron West
From the Johnson County website: “The Johnson County Commissioners are comprised of three members, each elected county wide. Each serve four year terms. The Commissioners are the executive body of the county and are responsible for county buildings, lands and property; audits and authorizes claims against the county; receives bids and authorizes contracts; supervising many County departments; oversee construction and maintenance of roads and bridges as well as exercise many of the legislative powers and duties of the county.”
County Council (click to JoCo website for contact info): John Myers, Josh McCarty, Josh Turner, James Ison, Rob Henderson, Beth Boyce, Pete Ketchum
From the Johnson County website: “The Johnson County Council is comprised of seven members, four elected from districts and three elected at-large. Each serve four year terms. They are responsible for setting salaries, the annual budget, and special spending. The council also has limited authority to impose local taxes, usually in the form of an income tax that is subject to state level approval, excise taxes, or service taxes, like those on dining or lodging.”
Bargersville Town Council (click to their website for contact info): Bruce Morris, Gayle Allard, Kenneth Zumstein, Larry Gates, Dustin Doyle
Hope that this leaves you super-informed and excited about the economic development coming to Johnson County!
I am Jill Levenhagen, a Realtor here on the southside with Keller Williams. My focus is to help you fall in love with where you live, the Southside, and give you information and motivation to be involved in making our community greater! And if you need to buy or sell a house, keep me in mind. 🙂