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Indiana sues county over I-69 noise ordinance

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The Indiana Department of Transportation is suing the commissioners of a southern Indiana county, saying they have no authority to limit construction of the Interstate 69 extension near Bloomington with an ordinance that restricts overnight noise.

The lawsuit filed in Marion Superior Court in Indianapolis says the Monroe County ordinance limiting noise between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. is hindering the project that's behind schedule and where some work goes on overnight to catch up.

Contractors already are bound by noise restrictions under their contracts, INDOT spokesman Will Wingfield told The Indianapolis Star. The ordinance approved June 20 has caused delays and it's difficult to say when new stretches of the freeway near Bloomington might open to traffic, he said.

"Certainly, we won't be able to put out an updated estimate until this matter is resolved," Wingfield said.

The agency's complaint filed Friday says "at least one INDOT contractor has threatened to alter its work schedule and cease work during certain hours in reaction to ... the ordinance."

INDOT alleges the ordinance violates Indiana's Home Rule Act, which prevents a county from imposing burdens on the agency or regulating matters that fall in INDOT's purview. INDOT is asking for a temporary restraining order barring the ordinance. A hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.

A message seeking comment was left for Monroe County attorney Dave Schilling.

Contractors currently are working on the fourth section of the extension that eventually will link Indianapolis and Evansville. The section stretches from Greene County to Bloomington and goes near the homes of some of the project's most strident opponents.

Thomas Tokarski, who has helped file legal challenges to stop the entire I-69 extension, said he and others often called the sheriff to complain about the nighttime noise before the ordinance went into effect. He said INDOT's request for a restraining order was another example of INDOT bullying him and his neighbors.

"It's simply not acceptable," he said. "It's a complete lack of consideration for the lives of people who live out here. You would not believe the noise that goes on at night. All night long when they're working like that. You cannot sleep."

Under the ordinance, violators can be fined up to $2,500 for a first offense or up to $7,500 for additional violations.

INDOT has butted heads with Monroe County officials previously over the extension. The Bloomington/Monroe County Metropolitan Planning Organization approved a local transportation plan in 2012 that omitted 1.75 miles of the project, threatening federal funding, before later narrowly approving its addition to the local plan.

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  1. I just wanted to point out that Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, Senator Feinstein, former Senate majority leader Bill Frist, and former attorney general John Ashcroft are responsible for this rubbish. We need to keep a eye on these corrupt, arrogant, and incompetent fools.

  2. Well I guess our politicians have decided to give these idiot federal prosecutors unlimited power. Now if I guy bounces a fifty-dollar check, the U.S. attorney can intentionally wait for twenty-five years or so and have the check swabbed for DNA and file charges. These power hungry federal prosecutors now have unlimited power to mess with people. we can thank Wisconsin's Jim Sensenbrenner and Diane Feinstein, John Achcroft and Bill Frist for this one. Way to go, idiots.

  3. I wonder if the USSR had electronic voting machines that changed the ballot after it was cast? Oh well, at least we have a free media serving as vicious watchdog and exposing all of the rot in the system! (Insert rimshot)

  4. Jose, you are assuming those in power do not wish to be totalitarian. My experience has convinced me otherwise. Constitutionalists are nearly as rare as hens teeth among the powerbrokers "managing" us for The Glorious State. Oh, and your point is dead on, el correcta mundo. Keep the Founders’ (1791 & 1851) vision alive, my friend, even if most all others, and especially the ruling junta, chase only power and money (i.e. mammon)

  5. Hypocrisy in high places, absolute immunity handed out like Halloween treats (it is the stuff of which tyranny is made) and the belief that government agents are above the constitutions and cannot be held responsible for mere citizen is killing, perhaps has killed, The Republic. And yet those same power drunk statists just reel on down the hallway toward bureaucratic fascism.

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