JOHNSON COUNTY — A Johnson County couple is facing the growing likelihood they're going to be forced out of their home as houses and businesses alike are being torn down as construction continues on Interstate 69 south of Indianapolis.
When Penny and Douglas Berty moved into their Center Grove home they never dreamed that nine years later they would be forced out, only to watch their home be torn down. The Indiana Department of Transportation has told the couple that could happen in as soon as six months as construction crews turn State Road 37 into Interstate 69 connecting Evansville to Indianapolis.
"We planned to retire here. This was our retirement home," Penny Berty said. "As far as I can remember I have no memory of ever being told there would be a possibility when I-69 comes through that there's a chance because I would've never purchased this home. Not when you're in your 50s. You don't want to move again and live in limbo and we have for the past three years."
As INDOT finalized its plan for the Indianapolis phase of I-69, different maps laid out possible routes for the interstate expansion, marking a red dot on property that could be taken to make room for new roads. But with the interstate curving away from their property, the Berty's didn't understand why their home would be taken and called RTV6 to figure it out.
"The red dot would be on the roof one time on the map, the next we'd go it'd be off," Penny Berty said. "Then one day my husband's co-worker called and said, 'Hey, did you know you guys got a red dot back on your roof?' My heart just sank and I thought, 'Wow, they may really take our house.'"
On INDOT's latest maps, the construction spares most of the neighborhood, however, it will still likely consume the Berty's home, their neighbor's home and half a neighbor's yard down the street. The retired healthcare workers and her husband, recently diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and skin cancer, say now is a tough time to move.
The couple isn't looking forward to starting over.
"Not looking forward to it at all. We did that 10 years ago," Douglas Berty said. "Said we were going to move one more time, I told her the next time move me in a pine box. She said pine boxes are too expensive."
Officials at INDOT told RTV6 the road is not slated to run through the Berty's property, but their home will likely be torn down to build some sort of drainage system.