Interstate 69 is a planned Interstate Highway that will probably involve an upgrade of SR 37 around Bloomington. It is a heavily debated topic in Bloomington with the most vocal advocates opposing the extension through Bloomington, mostly due to cutting across new terrain and impacting the environment. However there are some who are for the extension going through Bloomington hoping for an economic boost. Elsewhere along the route of the planned interstate, opposition has been far weaker; most people in areas southwest of Bloomington have celebrated the prospect of its construction.
For many years, Interstate 69 has connected Indianapolis with Fort Wayne, Detroit, and the Canadian border. Indianapolis and Evansville being the only two major Indiana cities to not be connected by a major highway, discussions of how to rectify this have been going on for years. In 1990 the first feasibility study was submitted to the United States Congress. It concluded that none of the proposed corridors were feasible. Nevertheless, many Indiana politicians kept pushing for the project in hopes of bringing additional federal dollars to the state. The next year, Congress enacted a plan to extend I-69 from Indianapolis down to Memphis, Tennessee, and eventually all the way to Mexico.
Over the next several years, the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) considered many different routes for the highway, including a route from Terre Haute to Evansville that would have bypassed Bloomington entirely. This route was commonly considered to have the least environmental impact, but failed to make the cut when the state narrowed its choices down to five in 2001. The EPA and the U.S. Department of the Interior both registered displeasure at the decision, along with many citizen groups in Indiana.
In 2003, then-governor Frank O'Bannon chose a final route, which would go through Martinsville and Bloomington. By 2012, construction was well underway — large sections of the highway were being built east of Princeton, near Washington, and southeast of Bloomfield.