ODON, INDIANA — On a sunny winter day, history was made on a strip of interstate highway in Odon, Indiana.
“This is a great, great day in Indiana,” Gov. Mike Pence, R.-Indiana, said.
“It’s taken decades, granted, but here we have it,” Mayor Lloyd Winnecke, R.-Evansville, said.
Driving a truck through something usually ends in destruction, but as Pence drove his truck through a ribbon on I-69, the newest section, it was a sign of growth.
“It is about economic growth,” Pence said. “It is about opportunity for Hoosiers for generations. It is about safety.”
“It’s a key component,” Winnecke said. “It’s been a missing component for years in the economic development equation.”
The newest part of I-69, Section 4, is open. State officials held a ceremony for the new 27-mile stretch of four-lane interstate highway linking Evansville to Bloomington, which is expected to cut down on travel time.
“God bless State Road 45, but it’s a pain in the neck,” Winnecke said.
“Commuting will be a lot better,” Dennis Sickel, the deputy director of depot operations at Crane Army Ammunition Activity, said. “I’ve already used the south part and have been using the south part since it was completed, and it’s cut my transportation time down a lot.”
Section 4 of I-69 begins at the Crane military complex, one of the biggest employers in the area.
“I think it’s going to be a big plus as far as bringing in more work to Crane itself,” Sickel said.
“Anytime you can get people off two-lane state highways and put them in a position to move product faster and more efficiently, they’re going to save money and they’re going to be more inclined to do business,” Winnecke said.
It has taken years, but the project isn’t over just yet.
“My promise to you today as I drive that truck through the ribbon is that we will finish I-69 all the way from Evansville to Indianapolis,” Pence said. “That is our pledge to the people of Indiana and we’re going to see you there.”
There are two remaining sections that are left. Section 5 will connect Bloomington to Martinsville, and Section 6 will connect Martinsville to Indianapolis.
While there is more work to be done, today is a day for celebration for the long road it has taken to get this new road in place.