While there are a lot of unknowns when it comes to Section 6 of the Interstate 69 project, it is certain to bring changes to the Morgan County landscape.
In early February, the Indiana Department of Transportation released the final environmental impact statement for the stretch of I-69, which will, more or less, traverse what is now Ind. 37 between Martinsville and Indianapolis.
Section 5 of the project is expected to be complete in August of this year and ends at the Indian Creek bridge on the south side of Martinsville.
The release of the environmental impact statement came less than one year after the state released a draft of the document, which outlined the placement of interchanges, overpasses and other aspects of the roadway.
Though many businesses may consider the future interstate through Morgan County a positive thing, some located near the I-69 corridor see an uncertain future. Community Chrysler in Martinsville may have to be relocated, as the current maps show some of its land will be swallowed up by I-69. The Village Pantry at Hospital Drive and Ind. 252 is set to be relocated. The Wendy’s restaurant on Grand Valley Boulevard is also looking at a relocation.
Another business that’s facing an uncertain future, though not a relocation, is Miles Home Furnishings on Big Bend Road south of Waverly, which is owned by Mike and Charlene Miles. The store sits just off of Ind. 37.
Mike Miles said he has taken a look at the recently released maps, which show Big Bend Road ending in a cul-de-sac near the store.
“It affects us a lot,” Miles said. “It is going to be a bad thing; it is going to be a real bad thing.”
He doubts potential customers will want to make the extra trek to stop at the store once Big Bend is closed. The closest interchange to the store will be the Ind. 144 exit more than three miles away in Johnson County. An interchange will also be constructed at Henderson Ford Road more than four miles to the south of the furniture store.
Miles said he has heard there might be a new access road that would connect Old Ind. 37 to Perry and New Harmony roads.
“I do not know what that is going to look like,” he said.
Big Bend Road intersects with Old Ind. 37 not far from the store.
“It is a country drive any way you go to get to us,” Miles said.
Another potential issue he sees is the semi traffic that brings shipments of furniture to the store.
“There have been days this week that we have had six trucks here in one day,” he said, noting the store does not always see that many trucks daily, but can sometimes see more.
Having large semis traversing narrow country roads is a concern for Miles.
“I do not know what they are going to end up doing with Big Bend Road, how they are going to straighten it out,” he said. “But even the turn of off Old (Ind.) 37 is going to be difficult for a 53-foot trailer with a tractor in front of it.”
Miles said he recently had a “kitchen-table meeting” with INDOT officials, and the state will be getting back with him on his concerns in the next few months. Kitchen-table meetings allow for property owners to meet with the state and discuss impacts to their property, as well as gather information about the land.
For now, Miles said, he plans on sticking it out and trying to maintain a successful business despite limited access to his store in the future.
“We are going to do our best,” he said.