Consulting parties share corridor route concerns

By CANDY NEAL
cneal@dcherald.com

As research work on the proposed Mid-States Corridor project continues, the public has several ways to have their opinions heard.

One is through consulting parties.

“Consulting parties are basically groups that may have an interest in the project that are engaged throughout, project spokeswoman Mindy Peterson said.

The Mid-States Corridor is a proposed, four-lane, limited-access highway that would run north from Owensboro, Kentucky, and through Dubois County to connect to I-69. The Lochmueller Group has been studying route options and different road types. They have been narrowed down to five route options: two running west of U.S. 231, one running somewhat parallel to the state road in Dubois County, and two running east of the road. Those options were shown at a series of community meetings in February. The options will be narrowed down to one proposed option this fall, which will be studied to determine a more specific single route, possibly by next summer.

The National Historic Preservation Act requires agencies to take into account the effects of their undertakings on historic and archaeological properties. Efforts must be made to identify historic and archaeological properties potentially affected by the Mid-States Corridor. Those effects must be assessed and ways must be sought to avoid, minimize or mitigate any adverse effects on historic and archaeological properties.

“You may have environmental agencies. You have members of local governments. You may have Native American tribes,” Peterson said. “You could have parties who might have an interest in the project. That is a standard element of some of the folks that you engage during this environmental process.”

Entities and individuals with a demonstrated interest in the Mid-States Corridor were invited to serve as consulting parties, Peterson said. Invitations were sent in December and follow-up invitations were sent in early April.

Dubois County Commissioner Chad Blessinger is a consulting party, and met with other consulting parties online last week. A concern expressed in the meeting was that people who are against the road coming through their area or property are not able to organize with their neighbors and others to voice their concerns before a single route is ultimately suggested.

“One of the people said, ‘What if the road is going through my area, but due to social distancing, I can’t go to my neighbors and talk to them about it?’ People may be having a hard time coming together to organize because of the situation,” Blessinger said. “There was concern that a road will be picked and it will be too late for people to have their voices heard. That is a concern, which I think is a valid concern.”

If anyone is interested in being a consulting party, they should contact the Mid-States project team.

“I think timelines are going to be amendable,” Blessinger said. “I think it’s time for people to have their pro or anti voices heard.”

The next consulting party meeting is expected to happen later this year, before the Draft Environmental Impact Statement is published. Those with an interest in the historic and archaeological effects of the project and a desire to be a consulting party should contact the Mid-States project team, Peterson said. The contact info is the same as the Mid-States Corridor office, which is included at the end of this story.

Public comments are also still being taken.

“Comments are always accepted. People can always go to the project website and there is an open comment form there,” Peterson said.”They can call the project office, even though the project office is temporarily closed now because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The phone is staffed, so folks can leave a message there if they don’t get through to somebody, and the call will be returned.”

The project’s website is https://midstatescorridor.com and the office phone number is 812-482-3116. People can also send a letter to the Mid-States Corridor Project Office at Vincennes University Jasper Campus Administration Building, Room 216, 850 College Ave., Jasper, Ind. 47546, or by email at info@midstatescorridor.com.




More on DuboisCountyHerald.com