Coalition seeks halt on Mid-States Corridor planning

By The Associated Press

JASPER — A coalition of business and environmental groups want state officials to halt planning work on a proposed highway from the Ohio River to Interstate 69 in southern Indiana.

The Indiana Department of Transportation has proposed five possible routes for the Mid-States highway from near Rockport north through the Jasper area, then on to I-69. The agency’s project timeline calls for selection of a preferred route by this fall.

Opponents said in a letter to state highway officials this past week that the project shouldn’t be advanced while the public is focused on the coronavirus outbreak. They also argue repairing existing roads would help the area’s economy and that a new highway would damage forests and caves.

“It would be an aggressive assault on nature with absolutely no compelling justification, said Jeff Stant, executive director of the Indiana Forest Alliance.

Mid-States Corridor spokeswoman Mindy Peterson said no planning delays are expected and that the project has been discussed for many years.

“This is not something where we’re just putting lines on a map,” Peterson said. “These are lines that are being drawn after we take a look at what are the considerations.”

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