By Scott Tibbs, October 13, 2011
They're at it again. The Bloomington/Monroe County Metropolitan Planning Organization is endangering federal funds to pay for the construction of Interstate 69 in Monroe County.
|The issue is whether local, long-range transportation plans should include I-69. Construction of the new terrain highway has reached the Monroe/Greene county line, and federal highway officials have given approval to begin work on what is called Section 4 across southern Monroe County.
However, construction cannot go any further than the edge of the MPO’s jurisdiction, which would be 1.75 miles from the interstate’s intended link with Ind. 37 at Victor Pike, unless that is included in a long-range transportation plan approved by local officials.
Source: Bloomington Herald-Times.
While local input is important, we need to have some reforms in the process. Interstate highways should be decisions made between the federal and state government. It makes no sense to give one community the power to monkey wrench a highway that the rest of the state has wanted for decades. Local communities need input on things like interchanges, but they should not have the authority to effectively veto a highway project.
The hypocrisy of Bloomington Democrats is glaring. While they support Barack Obama's "jobs" bill that relies heavily on infrastructure spending, they oppose and are actively trying to stop the construction of an interstate highway that will create the very construction jobs that have become a focus of Obama's 2011 policy agenda and 2012 campaign. So is Obama's plan good enough for Bloomington Democrats provided it is "not in my back yard?"
Here is what will probably happen. INDOT will withhold state and federal transportation funds from Monroe County, and the local obstructionists will relent. Interstate 69 is coming whether the obstructionists in Monroe County want it or not. The best thing to do now is to plan for it and maximize the highway's positive impact while minimizing any negative effects. It is simply irresponsible to try to block the project any further.
Previously: MPO makes irresponsible political statement.