Published by The Evansville Courier
Driving Division was frustrating, scary
Division Street was always a divided highway - divided by trains, that is.
Traveling alongside the frequent freight trains was unnerving; waiting for them was infuriating.
Decades of promises that the tracks would be replaced with a new cross-town expressway seemed only a dream. But finally, the dream came true.
"Not too long ago, a railroad track used to divide the old two-lane Division Street, and getting from one side of the city to the other was quite a nerve-racking experience.
"This fine expressway will soon make those ordeals a faint memory. This road will become one of Evansville's major economic links, reaching beyond the Tri-State to the rest of the nation."
Those comments by Lt. Gov. John Mutz on July 19, 1988, heralded the long-awaited official opening of Evansville's Lloyd Expressway. The roadway is named after the late Russell G. Lloyd, former mayor of Evansville and a key player in the city's efforts during the mid-1970s to win federal money for the highway.
The west section of the expressway was completed in the 1950s with plans to continue it east from Fulton Avenue at a later date.
But later kept getting later. Finally, buildings in the expressway's path began coming down in the spring of 1983.
Demolitions were speeded up because of a rash of arsons in condemned buildings.
The July 29, 1983, groundbreaking officially started the construction phase, with Gov. Robert Orr at the controls of a bulldozer.
Evansville motorists put up with detours and dust from the five-year construction of the Lloyd and of the long-awaited Interstate 164, which was being completed about the same time.
Despite its numerous stoplights and flooding problems, the $160 million east-west expressway allows drivers to travel from one end of the city to the other with much greater ease.
And both the Lloyd and I-164 are becoming the focal point of commercial and industrial development.
Planners now hope that another long-sought highway project - Interstate 69 to Indianapolis - will link with I-164 some day.
Published January 8th, 1995
150 Years of History series published between July and November 1995, was written by freelance writer Lisa Wiesjahn, former Sports Editor Bill Fluty and Courier staff writer Patrick W. Wathen.
You can reach Wathen via e-mail at email@example.com
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