Updated: Monday, 19 Nov 2012, 10:47 PM EST
Published : Monday, 19 Nov 2012, 10:47 PM EST
WASHINGTON, IND. (WTHI) - Traffic is moving on a large new section of I69.
State Highway crews pulled down the barricades along a 67 mile stretch of the roadway around 6 Monday evening opening it to motorists travelling from Crane to Evansville.
The highway project had a lot of ceremony as officials cut the ribbon and opened I69 for business in southern Indiana.
A big crowd lined up with Governor Mitch Daniels to cut the ribbon at the ceremonial opening of I69 in southern Indiana.
The highway, that had been the subject of debate for decades is now a reality.
"Eight years ago what you heard was, well, that will never happen and in 2012 what you hear is I can't believe I lived to see it," said Governor Daniels.
The project was completed ahead of schedule and remarkably $300-million under the original estimate of $900-million.
Officials say getting the road has already cut 38 minutes off of the drive time between Evansville and Bloomington, but this is about more than time and convenience.
"It's about this part of our state with all the challenges and hardships that have been visited on them joining fully in the prosperity that we're looking for for every single Hoosier," said Daniels.
While the people who took a parade lap on the highway had plenty to celebrate, those who have worked for decades on the project are still pushing for its full completion.
"I'm excited to go on this phase of the road, but we can't let up our spirits," David Graham, who was a founding member of the I69 Coalition. "We have to keep going."
Because even though the road now reaches to many of the small communities in southern Indiana it is still miles away from being complete.
The state is working on the section of I69 from Crane to Bloomington and is expected to open that part of the road in 2014.
Meanwhile, plans are being made to upgrade Indiana 37 on into Indianapolis as the last leg of the highway.
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