Hundreds of Southwest Indiana residents will join in the biggest motorcade in the region's history next Sunday for a massive but peaceful protest against the proposed new terrain Interstate 69 highway.
The action is sponsored by COUNT US!, a citizens group formed in August by homeowners with homes on the routes of the proposed Evansville-to-Indianapolis I-69 highway. The name refers to the statements made by the INDOT spokesperson who said they were not counting the number of persons opposed to the I-69 project. It's also an acronym for COunty Under New Terrain US I-69.
John Smith, a Bloomington merchant of 28 years and owner of Bikesmiths bicycle shop, is COUNT US! director. He sought the Democrat nomination for District 8 U.S. Congress in 1992. He is among the property owners facing eminent domain or a 50 percent reduction in value of his home from the I-69 highway route three A or B.
Particulars of the event
The I-69 Tour of the New Terrain routes on Oct. 27 will simultaneously travel up several proposed routes from Evansville. It will pick up local residents as it moves north to South West Way park in Indianapolis. Please request specific information about your area. Our schedule will follow shortly.
Participants are encouraged to bring along two pictures of what they will miss most if the highway is built near their community, as well as a picnic lunch, a full tank of gas and a recent restroom stop. All persons participating are asked to be respectful of those who will lose their homes by participating in a peaceful fashion.
Purpose of the event
To focus attention on the area of proposed damage and to support those whose homes and communities are being considered for destruction for I-69. To make residents of the state aware of the economic and environmental effects locally and state wide. To show the human and natural costs that are ignored when bulldozers and politicians purposefully inflict damage greater and more permanent than that done by natural disasters like tornadoes. To do this while the decision is still pending and before the official end of comment period November 7th.
The event will build throughout the day as it travels up the various routes and passes through many media gathering points in the counties that it passes through. The caravans will not stop after the official 12:30 start. Residents will gather in anticipation of the Tour's arrival and join in as it passes. Media representatives are invited to precede the tour to these gathering places. Maps for media representatives will be provided on request, but please ask asap. Participants are asked to obey all traffic laws and at all times be respectful of others.
Support and participation has come from members of the following groups: Oliver's Winery, Bikesmiths, The Maryland Ridge Association, Citizens for Appropriate Rural Roads, The Hoosier Environmental Council, The Decatur Twp. Civic Council, Marion County Alliance of Neighborhood Associations, The Center for Sustainable Living, Heartwood, The Indiana Forest Alliance and Bethel United Methodist Church.
The I-69 Sunday Drive of the New Terrain Routes, Oct 27, has been developed with door-to-door distribution of maps to approximately 5,000 persons whose homes are within 1,000 feet of the proposed I-69 routes. Ads will be placed in the region this week. A direct mail campaign developed with GIS technology will send notice to 1,345 property owners in Monroe County.
COUNT US! Director, John Smith, estimates that 10,000 Hoosiers can look at one of the photocopied maps of the proposed routes and see their homes under the threat of eminent domain. To date they have reached about 50 percent of those homes, but about 75 percent of all the homes on the most preferred routes of #3 and #4. This notification process is still on going.
COUNT US! will publish an I-69 Voters Guide which will be released at the I-69 Sunday Tour of the New Terrain Routes, Oct 27. This guide will be available in quantity for distribution until the election, and on the COUNT US website at ....
The COUNT US! PAC may make voter recommendation statements as well as educate.