Extension of Interstate 69 brings economic benefit to region

Neither Either might be her mother’s favorite child, but her humble spin on a holier-than-thou attitude irritates me.

I was telling her of my joy last week driving Interstate 69 from U.S. 231 (south of Bloomfield) to Evansville. After all, many people had told me I wouldn’t live long enough to see that road built. Now here it is, and the next link to Bloomington will be open soon.

“Perhaps,” Neither said, “but I prefer the simple pleasure of the old route down State Road 67 and State Road 57. There is the mysterious quiet of the nearly deserted towns, the charm of the two-lane road, yet the blood rushes passing a truck on a steep hill.”

“Doesn’t it make you proud,” I asked, “to see southwest Indiana connected via a safer, faster route to the state’s center of business and government?”

“Well,” she paused, “I can’t see the need for it. Particularly,” she added, “when it was financed by taking money from projects in other parts of the state.”

“Any expenditure,” I exclaimed, “takes money from something else. Can’t you accept Indiana as one state, not a collection of separate counties or artificial regions?”

Neither fingered her necklace. “What is the benefit to those who don’t live along I-69 of that new slash of concrete through our beautiful countryside?” she asked.

“Don’t you listen to the cry of Hoosiers for better-paying jobs?” I asked. “Don’t you recognize such jobs mean more government revenue for needed expenditures and less government spending to assist those trapped in low-paying jobs? More people working for better wages in Greene, Daviess, Pike and Gibson counties will have benefits everywhere because all Hoosiers are linked together by the same state budget limitations.”

Leaning close to me, Neither said, “I’ll tell you what all that economic development chatter means. It means more traffic on our streets, more pollution, more people buying and selling illegal drugs, and our quiet country towns won’t be the same. Simply put, and this is just between you and me, it means more people we don’t want.”

I did not want to ask her what kind of people we don’t want because I was afraid I knew the answer too well.

“Nonetheless,” I said, “I-69 has come at a time when new energies are being applied along its route. I couldn’t swear it’s I-69 stimulating the progress I saw in Washington (Daviess County) and Princeton (Gibson County), where many positive steps are being taken. There are clear signs of progress and people who are making things happen. I don’t think the advances I observed would be happening without the added boost of I-69.”

“Ah, Mr. Goody Two Shoes is dancing again,” she sneered at me.

“That’s not to say there aren’t reasonable questions to be asked about how all this is done, about the transparency of some things and the propriety of others,” I said.

“And when will you talk about those?” Neither asked.

“Next week, in this column,” I promised.

Morton Marcus is an economist, formerly with the Indiana University Kelley School of Business. Send comments to dr-editorial@greenfieldreporter.com.