• An outer beltway would have a mixed impact on travel patterns. Traffic would be cut on some existing roadways but could increase on some feeder highways.
• There would be a "generally negligible impact" on regional development patterns, even as far out as 2040, after a beltway had been open for 15 years. The area that could benefit the most is Madison County, with employment shifting there from Hendricks, Hamilton and Johnson counties.
• Development is likely to occur around major interchanges, including restaurants, gas stations, warehouses and distribution centers and smaller office parks. However, "it will take decades before a significant amount of regional development reaches" the corridor.
• The "relatively low traffic forecasts and the lack of associated land use may be surprising, given the 'build it and they will come' view shared by many people with respect to new roadways." The study cited several reasons for that: The outer belt would be relatively far from the center of Indianapolis and other job centers; it wouldn't have much of an impact on Downtown commuters; and a significant amount of land is still available for development closer to the urban core.
It is quite interesting that the study found that the traffic congestion on I-465, I-70 and I-74 would be relieved very little by a new outer beltway because most of the that traffic is local. In fact, it found traffic would increase on I-70 and I-74. It found a "negligible" impact on economic development because the road would be built so far from the central city, and there was still plenty of undeveloped land nearer the city. It also found that the highway would shift jobs from Hamilton, Hendricks and Johnson County to Madison County in the northeast.
What is equally as troubling as the study's findings is the Governor's lack of candor about its existence. Kim writes:
Neither Daniels nor transportation officials made mention of the INDOT study until asked about it. The study was not available on the agency's Web site Wednesday. Abell said the study was "inadvertently" purged as part of a Web site overhaul and would be restored as soon as today.
Yet, another study appears to have looked at the proposed bypass years earlier according to a story in the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette. According to the AP report, the proposed route is very similar to a nearly ten-year-old federal study of a proposed route for I-69 around Indianapolis. The AP reports:
Tom Tokarski, the head of Citizens for Appropriate Rural Roads, said Daniels’ idea is just a ruse to build the highway without calling it I-69 – a way to circumvent opposition and questions about how the long-planned road would be routed through Indianapolis.
“They’ve always had a problem getting (I-69) around Indianapolis,” said Tokarski, a Monroe County resident. “... They’re looking for a way to fund I-69 – but that is I-69.”
He said the route of the proposed Indiana Commerce Connector, announced last week by the governor, would follow essentially the same path as a partial I-69 route suggested in May 1997 by a federally commissioned study.
Tokarski said a May 1997 study produced by the consulting firm Wilbur Smith Associates identified an outer loop around Indianapolis as one of three ways to get I-69 around the city. That proposed route said the outer loop would generally follow Indiana 9 from Pendleton to Shelbyville and Indiana 44 from Shelbyville to Martinsville, essentially the same route that Daniels identified for the Indiana Commerce Connector, Tokarski said.
The study’s two other alternatives involved adding lanes to Interstate 465 and building a section of I-69 from the northeast into downtown Indianapolis.
Suffice it to say the Governor has gotten off to a rather clumsy start in convincing the public that this new toll road bypass is needed.