Western Kentucky Leaders Criticize I-69 Proposal

Published 02/19 2014 05:17PM

Updated 02/19 2014 05:37PM

Work on Interstate 69 keeps going, and so does the backlash on a controversial idea for the proposed interstate. Kentucky and Indiana leaders are responding to Owensboro Mayor Ron Payne's proposal to re-route the interstate through Owensboro. Mayor Payne claims using the Natcher Bridge will save billions of dollars instead of building a new bridge near henderson.

Some say change is for the better. Yet,some western Kentucky officials say a plan to change I-69 is for the worse.

"It really falls out of line with what we're trying to do with western Kentucky," says Lee Lingo of the Madisonville Chamber of Commerce.

Owensboro Mayor Ron Payne is suggesting re-routing I-69 through Owensboro at the Natcher Bridge. He argues it could save Mentucky more than a billion dollars because the state would not have to build a new bridge.

"This is just not the way to do it," Lingo adds.

Rep. Ed Whitfield says this idea is wrong for the region.

"Improvements are already being made on the Pennyrile Parkway," says Whitfield. "The route's already been set. And we don't anticipate or plan to change it."

Lingo says Payne's math doesn't add up.

"You also have to bring up all the bridges and overpasses you go over to interstate standard, so there's money in that. All the exits would have to be brought up to interstate standard," he says. "By the time you've done that, you haven't saved a billion dollars, you've spent a billion dollars elsewhere."

Critics say to change now would put the project, and progress in the region on hold.

"It would take a lot of work to do that, and take a lot of time. because once its on the road plan then they would have to go through environmental studies, which we've already gone through. It's not like you can drop this road in and it'll be ready in a couple of years," Lingo says.

Payne argues it's time for Owensboro to have an interstate, but others say it's too late to change courses.

We reached out to Mayor Payne earlier today, but he was unavailable for comment.

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