BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) It will cost less than expected to build part of a hotly contested section of the Interstate 69 extension through southern Indiana, the state highway agency said.
The Indiana Department of Transportation said the winning bid of $57.5 million was 16 percent below what engineers had estimated for construction of a 4 mi. (6.4 km) stretch of the highway’s route in southern Monroe County near Bloomington.
The section is in a 27-mi. (43 km) length of I-69’s route from near the Crane Naval Surface Warfare Center to Indiana 37 south of Bloomington that has faced local opposition over its environmental impact and the location of interchanges in the hilly, wooded area.
Thomas Tokarski, a longtime I-69 opponent and president of Citizens for Appropriate Rural Roads, said legal challenges to the highway project would continue despite its ongoing construction.
“The minor economic benefits predicted for this highway will in no way make up for the extreme destruction it is causing,” Tokarski told The Herald-Times.
A nearly 70-mi. (112.6 km) stretch of I-69 from near Evansville to Crane is expected to open this year.
The highway department said other contracts for Monroe County work are to be awarded by year’s end, with that section scheduled for completion in 2014.
The new contract was awarded to E.S. Wagner Co. of Toledo, Ohio, which submitted the lowest bid among seven companies.
Highway department spokeswoman Cher Elliott said she didn’t know why the bid came in so much less than estimated, except that “with the economy as it is, everyone is competitive for the work.”