'I-69 Road to democratic ruin'
This is the last in a series of stories on the history behind Interstate 69 in Indiana.
The chasm between Indiana Democrats and ordinary citizens on the economic wisdom of building an interstate highway from Evansville to Bloomington developed in the earliest days of the I-69 struggle. Landowners, business people, and at least one politician sounded the Indiana-can't-afford-I-69 alarm early, and often.
"Where's all that money going to come from?" Peggy Hunter, the owner of a Morgan County motel, asked during an interview for a December 1991 Herald-Times year-in-review story. "It's our money, isn't it?"
This is the second in a series exploring the history behind Interstate 69, Indiana's Billion-Dollar Boondoggle.
Like newspapers everywhere, the Bloomington Herald-Times views the world in starkly geographic terms. For both circulation and newsgathering purposes, the H-T editors subdivide the paper according to the map: Bloomington, Monroe County, the Region, the State, the Nation, and the World. The Region consists of the surrounding counties - Morgan, Owen, Greene, Brown, and Lawrence.
So, in the early 1990s, when Gov. Evan Bayh sent out the first signals of his intent to build a four-lane highway from Evansville to Indianapolis via Bloomington, the facts be damned, the H-T editors assigned the story to Region reporter Laura Lane. She covered Greene County, through which the proposed Bayh highway would pass over new-terrain on its way to Ind. 37 south of Bloomington. Laura covered I-69 when it was called the "Southwest Indiana Highway." I picked up the story when it became I-69.
First in an occasional series exploring the history behind Interstate 69, Indiana's Billion-Dollar Boondoggle.
Phil Schermerhorn is the only person I've ever talked to about I-69 who claimed to know when and where Hoosier politicians got their first whiff of the pork now popularly called Indiana's "Billion-Dollar Boondoggle."
Schermerhorn had spent most of his long career in state government promoting and defending I-69 as a political appointee in Evan Bayh and Frank O'Bannon's Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT). He rose through the ranks to the post of deputy commissioner, the agency's No. 2 position. I considered him a reliable source on the subject.