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Author Topic: Bloomington, Ind. trip (via Evansville)  (Read 1791 times)

hbelkins

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Bloomington, Ind. trip (via Evansville)
« on: December 12, 2016, 02:10:52 PM »

My wife insisted that I go to the Lil Bub meet and greet held this past Saturday in Bloomington, Ind. (where her owner lives). Melissa had met Lil Bub and her "dude" a few years ago at the CatVidFest in Minnesota, and really wanted me to have the chance to see this wondrous little cat, so I went. And obviously, I had to turn it into a road trip, so I opted to take the long way and drive the completed portion of the southwestern extension of I-69.

To get to Evansville, I took an indirect route to get to US 60 southwest of Louisville. I took I-64, I-265 and I-65 south to KY 313, the connector route between US 31W near Fort Knox. This route has been built in stages and now apparently is complete all the way to Brandenburg, the seat of Meade County which was named for a distant ancestor and is in the area where some of my great-grandmother's family came from. I took this route not only to get to drive KY 313, but to avoid the traffic lights along US 31W/US 60 in the southwestern part of Jefferson County.

I really like US 60 between Fort Knox and Owensboro. If you're not behind a slow vehicle, it's a reasonably fast drive with only a few traffic lights scattered here and there. Most of the road has been reconstructed and there are a number of truck climbing lanes. A portion of the four-lane west of Hawesville was built in a fashion similar to Virginia four-lanes, with two newer lanes built parallel to the existing carriageway.

This was the second time in recent months I've driven the Audubon Parkway westbound, and I confirmed no "Future I-69 Spur" signs remain in that direction, and I didn't see any in my mirror on the eastbound side either.

As for I-69, it was a pleasant drive. Not a whole lot of traffic, but a pretty high percentage of what traffic existed was trucks, so it would seem to be serving its purpose. There are no destination cities listed for northbound I-69, and Evansville is consistently listed for southbound. There are also no mileage signs beyond the exits. The exit signs do list the mileage to the next exit. A lot of the traffic dropped off at Oakland City, and quite a bit more of the existing traffic thinned out north of Washington.

It appears to me that the route was designed so as to run near towns and cities (Oakland City, Washington) instead of taking a more direct route between Evansville and Bloomington. I'm not sure if this was a bone thrown to the towns in the area, or if this route was selected for environmental concerns, but I would have preferred a straighter route.

I noticed a number of signs along the route near ditches and smaller streams saying "Jurisdictional Water." I've never seen this before and am unsure what it means.

Beyond the US 231 exit, the route enters some very hilly terrain. There are a lot of "low salt area" signs in this region, which might make winter travel along this stretch of I-69 a bit tricky.

It appears that IN 445 has been extended along a new route to intersect I-69. My GPS's most recent update did not have the route finished beyond US 231 (more on this later) which made its calculation to the motel where I was staying incorrect by about 30 minutes.

Construction along IN 37 is in full swing. There's still some button copy remaining on the route and on intersecting routes, but it will probably be replaced as part of the construction project.

My motel was on the east side of town, near the College Mall. The Lil Bub meet-and-greet was downtown and I wasn't scheduled to be there until 1:20, so I did a little exploring Saturday morning. There are a few guide signs that have Illinois-style route markers (no border) which makes them stand out (Indiana route markers on guide signs have the black border; Illinois markers don't).

I spotted a state-named I-69 marker on southbound IN 37 in the construction zone just before the beginning of the interstate. I almost didn't grab the camera in time to get a photo, but I managed to get one.



(Personal non-roads comment follows...)

I felt strangely out of place in Bloomington. It was very much enemy territory. Not only is it the home of Indiana University (I didn't wear any UK gear, but I spotted a family at Five Guys Friday night with some Kentucky Wildcats blue garb) but it's a very liberal town politically. I know the NIMBYs fought very hard against I-69 even though nothing is really impacted by the construction or the new route. And I've heard other stories about the politically liberal atmosphere there.

Leaving Bloomington, I took IN 46 east to Columbus in hopes of grabbing that final section of US 31 I needed to clinch it in the Hoosier State. It had been closed when I went to Battle Creek, but it had reopened. I presume the closure was for a bridge replacement, but a new roundabout has been built out in the middle of nowhere at the intersection of a county road. Why, I have no clue. The intersection didn't appear to be that heavily traveled.

When I got to Seymour, before I hopped on I-65, I made a motel reservation for the east side of Louisville. Remember my comment about the newest I-69 section not being on my GPS? I plugged the motel's address (which I already knew where it was) into the GPS, and it tried to route me across the not-yet-open East End Bridge. Somebody at Garmin jumped the gun on their most recent map update.

There's one button-copy sign left on southbound I-65 -- a supplemental destination sign for the IN 60 exit -- but I was in the left lane and passing a big rig so I didn't get a copy.

This was my first time crossing the Kennedy Bridge in many years (usually, when I go to Louisville for a conference and go across the river, I use the US 31 bridge) and obviously the first time since it became a southbound-only bridge. I don't think the new ramps to I-64/I-71 are a noticeable improvement over the old ones.

Nothing really to report for the rest of the trip Sunday from Louisville on home.

If someone's so inclined, the IN 37 upgrade to I-69 from Martinsville to Bloomington might be something worthy of consideration for a meet.
« Last Edit: December 12, 2016, 02:13:21 PM by hbelkins »
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vdeane

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Re: Bloomington, Ind. trip (via Evansville)
« Reply #1 on: December 12, 2016, 02:27:59 PM »

My wife insisted that I go to the Lil Bub meet and greet held this past Saturday in Bloomington, Ind. (where her owner lives).
Your wife has an owner!?  :wow:

(yeah, I later figure out you were talking about Lil Bub; couldn't resist)
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tdindy88

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Re: Bloomington, Ind. trip (via Evansville)
« Reply #2 on: December 12, 2016, 05:34:41 PM »

That's a very nice find with the state-named I-69 sign, there's only one other sigh like that in Southern Indiana and all I can say is that some people on this forum are responsible for that one. Still, the fact that it is only temporary makes me worried about where it will go when they're done with it. It is a temporary sign right?

I really wish they would do something about the mileage signs and control cities. With the highway connected to Bloomington they can honestly add Bloomington or Indianapolis to the signs now. The lack of a control point for northbound signage was only really necessary when the highway ended at US 231, when it truly ended in the middle of nowhere. And yet we have to have signs for low salt and territorial waters. Figures. This state has been rather inconsistent on this stuff with its new highways of late. US 31 from Plymouth to South Bend features this stuff in abundance, the Kokomo bypass not so much. But the signage along an interstate highway like I-69 needs to be consistent with what you'd find on I-65 and I-64.

As for the crooked path, I'd blame the Crane Naval Warfare center for that. Being an active military base they obviously were going to route the interstate around it. Drawing a straight line from Washington to Bloomington would have taken the highway through Crane. On top of that, leaving it as it is, the highway does remain on flatter terrain longer before finally turning into the hilly section east of US 231, which is why Section 4 was much more expensive than Sections 1-3.

I spent seven summers in Bloomington and loved the city. As for the politics, it is different from the rest of Indiana and it shows. They can go a bit overboard on some of the liberal, they recently changed the name of Columbus Day and Good Friday to Fall Holiday and Spring Holiday respectively. But I love the city and the change of pace it has from the rest of Indiana. The NIMBY stuff I think comes more from the stretch of I-69 already built from Bloomington southward and from landowners who were not in favor of the route. Like all things NIMBY, they are more worried about their own properties than whether or not the area benefits from the highway. I think Bloomington has the most to gain from I-69, connecting it with Indy and Evansville to me makes the highway worth it. The only thing really pissing these people off nowadays is the fact that Section 5 is taking at least a year longer than expected.
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coatimundi

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Re: Bloomington, Ind. trip (via Evansville)
« Reply #3 on: December 12, 2016, 06:39:00 PM »

As for the crooked path, I'd blame the Crane Naval Warfare center for that. Being an active military base they obviously were going to route the interstate around it. Drawing a straight line from Washington to Bloomington would have taken the highway through Crane. On top of that, leaving it as it is, the highway does remain on flatter terrain longer before finally turning into the hilly section east of US 231, which is why Section 4 was much more expensive than Sections 1-3.

I spent seven summers in Bloomington and loved the city. As for the politics, it is different from the rest of Indiana and it shows. They can go a bit overboard on some of the liberal, they recently changed the name of Columbus Day and Good Friday to Fall Holiday and Spring Holiday respectively. But I love the city and the change of pace it has from the rest of Indiana. The NIMBY stuff I think comes more from the stretch of I-69 already built from Bloomington southward and from landowners who were not in favor of the route. Like all things NIMBY, they are more worried about their own properties than whether or not the area benefits from the highway. I think Bloomington has the most to gain from I-69, connecting it with Indy and Evansville to me makes the highway worth it. The only thing really pissing these people off nowadays is the fact that Section 5 is taking at least a year longer than expected.

I lived in Bloomington while they were fighting and planning 69 through there.
Yes, Crane absolutely had a big part of its routing. There are quite a few Crane employees living in Bloomington, and all of the ones that I knew were very supportive of the interstate's construction.

The resistance to I-69 goes a bit beyond NIMBYism. A lot of the fear was actually in regards to sprawl and gentrification, which is already a big issue there with restrictive development controls, a shortage of on-campus housing, and a heavy influx of wealthy out-of-state students (mostly from NJ, for whatever reason). The rest of the state seems to view Bloomington through rose-colored glasses, so the fear is that, as Bloomington's home prices remain relatively low and Indianapolis' economy continues to do well, that more Indy commuters would move down. I commuted up 1-2 times per week while there, and the slog on 37/67 was enough to make Bloomington less attractive. But an interstate, potentially allowing travel between the two cities to get less than an hour, you could see people making a lot more money come in and drive up the housing prices. The wages in Bloomington are awful, just like most college towns, so it's a sensitive subject for the university as well, since attracting faculty partially relies on the ability of the university to pay enough for them to be able to purchase a home (renting in Bloomington really sucks).

The resistance from landowners was actually from people north of town, more toward Morgan County. There were concerns over how the construction crews were operating, regarding environmental reviews, a lack of notice and public meetings for landowners, and the disruption to 37 (the section south of Bloomington is all new ROW, so it had minimal disruption).

The big proverbial middle finger to those who wanted I-69 came when Monroe County refused to add it to its planning documents, which made it difficult, if not impossible, for them to continue. And that delayed it, but it did not stop it.
Pence would never admit it but, in seeming retaliation for that act, once 69 did start up, said that they would route 69 into 37 south of town, but did not have the funding to upgrade 37. So, as bad as 37 always was, it would just get worse with the additional truck traffic that the interstate would dump onto it.

I mean, I was never one of the people out there protesting it, but I also always thought it was stupid. On the larger scale, there are portions that will likely not be built in the next 25 years (like in Louisiana), so the nouveau NAFTA Corridor they bill it as always seemed far-fetched. On the state-wide scale, Evansville seemed to be the only region that actually wanted this, and some others seemed to like it just because people in Bloomington didn't like it.

Bloomington is not that unique in terms of its "progressive island" status. Other similar towns - Flagstaff, Missoula, Oxford (MS), Lawrence, and even Austin - are the same way. The left-leaning nature seems to entrench and build upon itself until it gets annoying. We did not like living in Bloomington and were happy to leave. It seemed like a great place to be a grad student or, as the townies always put it, you were able to drink the Bloomington Kool-Aid, and accept how people were there and buy a home. It's just not for everyone.
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hbelkins

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Re: Bloomington, Ind. trip (via Evansville)
« Reply #4 on: December 13, 2016, 10:23:44 AM »

It's not as if the construction of I-69 south of town is going to open anything up to development. It's a pretty long slog from the current beginning of the interstate down to IN 445, and most of that terrain is pretty wooded and hilly. There's not a whole lot  on 37 immediately south of the interstate, and that road's been there for years.

As for the city itself, it doesn't seem that much larger than Richmond, Ky. I haven't been around Bowling Green all that much, but I almost get the impression that Bowling Green is bigger.

That's a very nice find with the state-named I-69 sign, there's only one other sigh like that in Southern Indiana and all I can say is that some people on this forum are responsible for that one. Still, the fact that it is only temporary makes me worried about where it will go when they're done with it. It is a temporary sign right?

Where is the other one? I didn't see it anywhere. Yes, this is a temporary construction sign.
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coatimundi

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Re: Bloomington, Ind. trip (via Evansville)
« Reply #5 on: December 13, 2016, 11:22:12 AM »

It's not as if the construction of I-69 south of town is going to open anything up to development. It's a pretty long slog from the current beginning of the interstate down to IN 445, and most of that terrain is pretty wooded and hilly. There's not a whole lot  on 37 immediately south of the interstate, and that road's been there for years.

As for the city itself, it doesn't seem that much larger than Richmond, Ky. I haven't been around Bowling Green all that much, but I almost get the impression that Bowling Green is bigger.

Uh, no, Bloomington is over 80,000 just within the city, with a lot more in its sphere of influence, which is most of Monroe County. For its size though, I always thought traffic flowed pretty well. Gridlock was pretty rare even though the bus system was useless.

The concern isn't sprawl (that can be addressed through planning) so much as gentrification and housing price increases. The people who would move there want to live in a historic and charming craftsman in a historic neighborhood, walkable to the courthouse square. There are only so many of those houses. If they wanted a generic tract home or McMansion, then Carmel is a lot closer to their workplace.
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tdindy88

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Re: Bloomington, Ind. trip (via Evansville)
« Reply #6 on: December 13, 2016, 08:13:01 PM »

Where is the other one? I didn't see it anywhere. Yes, this is a temporary construction sign.

The other "sign" is located on SR 68 just west of its interchange with I-69 (Exit 22.) The state name was added by someone who is associated with this forum. Alex told me the story.
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US 41

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Re: Bloomington, Ind. trip (via Evansville)
« Reply #7 on: December 13, 2016, 09:15:39 PM »

I go to Bloomington about every week and I will say that I like Terre Haute a lot better and I would never consider moving to Bloomington. I don't really understand what there is to like about the place. The roads are all rough, curvy, and busy. There are 3 "good" roads there (SR 37 / Future 69, the bypass a.k.a. 45/46, and Walnut St. Getting from the east side to the west side (or vise versa) is a pain. 3rd St is the best way I think, but you have to shift over to Kirkwood Ave which makes it not as nice as it could be. Hopefully (and I've heard that this will happen) Fullerton Pike is connected with Gordon Pike. That will help the southside out quite a bit.
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