Indiana University eyes opportunities along new I-69 section

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence drives an INDOT truck to cut the ribbon during a ceremony celebrating the opening of section 4 of Interstate 69 Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2015 near Crane, Ind. The 27-mile long section of I-69 between Bloomington and Crane opened to traffic Wednesday afternoon. (David Snodgress/Bloomington Herald-Times via AP)

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) — Indiana University officials say the state’s newly opened section of the Interstate 69 extension will give a boost to IU’s partnerships with the Crane Naval Surface Warfare Center.

The 27-mile section that opened last week between Crane and Bloomington means drivers can for the first time travel between Evansville and Indianapolis through Bloomington using only multilane highways. The highway now runs 94 miles between Evansville and Bloomington.

IU assistant vice president for strategic partnerships, Kirk White, tells The Herald-Times the highway’s new section will boost IU’s numerous partnerships with the Crane complex and also improve travel safety for students coming from Evansville.

The university announced Wednesday that one of its latest partnerships helped three Crane facilities reduce energy use between 4.5 and 26 percent this fall. The pilot project involved graduate students from the School of Public and Environmental Affairs. Interns from the Maurer School of Law also are working with Crane’s legal staff on joint projects related to intellectual property and technology transfer.

“The reason this is so good is that our students get a chance to work in a large federal laboratory facility and gain that experience,” White said. “At the same time, Crane gets the benefit of expertise from one of the nation’s leading research universities.”

IU is also working on launching a new $19.2 million medical campus in Evansville, and the highway means a shorter trip for students commuting to the south.

“I think we’re right on the edge here of making some great use of a new piece of infrastructure that will link Bloomington to the rest of southwest Indiana and open up opportunities for us in both directions,” White said.

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