1968: State Asks For More Interstates

When the interstate system was started in the United States, most of the routes were set down quickly. Those approved by the federal government were added to the 90% federal funding list. Other that were added to the first batch were approved, but not officially funded. Indiana decided to try to get more interstates into the system. Their first request was made in 1968, 12 years after the interstate system became law. These are the roads that the ISHC wanted to add to the state at that time.

First, and the most controversial, was the proposed extension of I-69 from downtown to Castleton. The six-lane, $48.6 million highway would start at the triple level interchange already being built at I-65 and I-70 northeast of downtown, and wind its way through the northeast side to connect to the I-69/I-465 interchange at Castleton. Interchanges were planned, if approved, at: 16th Street; 30th Street; 38th Street; 46th Street; 56th Street; and 71st Street.

This northeast expressway had already been turned down by Federal officials for several reasons, including cost and justification. (Keep in mind that at that time, the northeast suburbs were still mostly small and/or farm fields. There was no way to have known that they would have blown up the way they did. So, arguing about the fact that the northeast side got cheated in this is POINTLESS. As such, it was very unlikely that the highway would ever be approved by the feds. Also, even if they did approve it, the money to build it was not allocated for any of the expansions of the 1956 interstate system.)

The northeast highway, in addition to the wanted state expressway connecting I-465 at Harding Street on the southside to I-65 and 38th on the northside, were state wishes. The Harding Expressway, which would have been SR 37, was to have been half financed by the US Government, as it was not part of the interstate system. This also included an expressway across from the SR 37 route to I-65 along the 30th Street corridor.

Second. The state wanted to add I-63 to the system. This 92.1 mile highway would link I-64 near Elberfield in Warrick County to I-70 somewhere between Terre Haute and Brazil. This would roughly parallel the US 41 corridor. Estimated cost: $131.1 million.

Third. A spur from I-64, costing $39.6 million and running for 20.8 miles, that would bypass Evansville on the east and connect to the Pennyrile Parkway at Henderson, Kentucky.

And last, 10.1 miles of an Interstate 294 extension in Lake County. This would combine with the Tri-State Highway and the improvements then being made on SR 912 (Cline Avenue) to create loop route around a lot of the Chicago suburbs in Indiana. The estimated cost was $42.6 million. This extension would use the Tri-State eastward from Illinois, then turn northward on the new SR 912, and end near the Indiana Toll Road at 129th Street.

Another request from the state was that a new section of SR 100, connecting I-65 on the south to the north leg of I-465 in Boone County, be made a part of I-465. This is the section of the current I-465 that finished the loop and had interchanges at 71st Street and 86th Street.

As mentioned above, the northeast extension would have had a hard time getting approved. Add to that the local protests about such plans, getting it approved would have been very, very, hard. The I-63 plan also died on the vine. However, it would make a proposed comeback as an alternative to the building of a cross-state Interstate 69 southern extension. One may even consider the SR 641 bypass of Terre Haute part of this plan.

The I-64 spur east of Evansville would eventually be built…as I-164. However, that designation is gone, as it has become part of I-69. The SR 912 expressway was completed. But, unfortunately, between design flaws and questionable construction, its days are (some say temporarily) over.

Another thing that was mentioned in the newspaper reports about this project is that the state didn’t actually have the money to do any of these things. The Bureau of Public Roads flat out asked the State Highway Commission which of the already approved highways were going to be deferred to build these new projects. Since no more money was being allocated from the highway fund, the US government asked, rightly so, which do you want more: a highway to Castleton, or the completion of the cross-state routes that have already been approved?

One thought on “1968: State Asks For More Interstates

  1. “This also included an expressway across from the SR 37 route to I-65 along the 30th Street corridor.” Was the Holt Road improvement part of this plan? I don’t remember what Holt Rd. was like before that. How much of that even existed, north of US36? Thanks!

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