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Good morning and welcome to Bloomington on this frigid but beautiful morning!

I’m Mary Catherine Carmichael, communications director for the City of Bloomington.  I bring greetings and regrets from Mayor John Hamilton whose calendar could not accommodate this rescheduled event.  I will deliver his message this morning.

Thank you to the I-69 Development Partners for stepping forth to host this event today.  (Thank you, Gary.) We requested this opportunity to reach out to the public prior to the bulk of the holiday travel in an effort to provide an update on the travel conditions folks will be experiencing as they leave and return to the area via Section 5 of the I-69 corridor. We are also here to urge transparency and request frequent and frank information about the incremental progress on this major construction initiative.

Thank you too to Indiana University’s Kirk White for his presence, Dustin Krebbs the O & M manager here, the Indiana State Police and Sgt. Rich Myers, and Jeb Conrad from the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce.

Mayor Hamilton has stated many times that his first priority as mayor is always public safety, and that is in large part why we are gathered here today.  Every weekday over 10,000 workers come into Monroe County to work. Almost 3,000 commute out of the county to their workplaces. Many of these 13,000 people depend on this I-69 corridor for their livelihoods.  

Add to that the roughly 45,000 Indiana University students and 8,000 staff and faculty members who will be taking advantage of the winter break to travel to visit family or pursue educational enrichment elsewhere.  And of course, there are the loyal legions of basketball fans who come to Bloomington to support the Hoosiers and enjoy our city and beautiful campus.

That is a huge number of people who will be navigating this road and the construction taking place on it.  They will be experiencing difficult weather conditions like we saw here yesterday and new and unfamiliar lane changes.

Mayor Hamilton is deeply concerned about the safety challenges these conditions will present.  He urges everyone to leave for their destinations early, have patience, pay strict attention to the road, mind the speed limit -- and for goodness sake, NO TEXTING and DRIVING.  

We want every single person who leaves this community to safely return to us after the holidays.  Each vehicle will be transporting precious cargo. Every one of us must keep that in mind as we traverse this sometimes unpredictable highway.

The delay in construction Mayor Hamilton discussed at a press conference on a hot day in September has made it necessary for us to navigate winter conditions and construction restrictions simultaneously again this season.  As Mayor Hamilton stated in early September, “Every week it’s not completed is a week of inconvenience, lost productivity, and worse, risks to life and limb.” We ask that the I-69 Partnership continue to provide frank and frequent updates about the progress they are making and the travel conditions we will be experiencing.

Again, thanks to each of you for being here today to spread this message of safety and concern to every Hoosier traveler.

Mayor Hamilton asks that I share his sincere wishes for a safe and happy holiday season, wherever the road may take you.

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