Corridor meeting addresses roadway’s pros, cons

Allen Laman/The Herald
More than 230 people attended a public informational Mid-States Corridor meeting at Jasper High School on Thursday night.

By ALLEN LAMAN
alaman@dcherald.com

More than 230 people attended a public informational Mid-States Corridor meeting at Jasper High School on Thursday night. Many — if not most — wondered the same thing: If the long-discussed road becomes a reality, who will see their property transformed into fast lanes and rumble strips?

Jim and Jenny Himsel own land on North Kellerville Road outside of Jasper. The Himsel family has owned the original homestead since 1852, and Jim and Jenny would like to pass it on to their children.

They’ve carved their names into the trees. Nieces and nephews have spent hours of their lives in the forests and creeks on the property — precious memories that will stick with them for the rest of their lives.

It’s home. But should the corridor come through their property, it would crush them, Jenny said. It would crush many people.

“I can’t even fathom the thought that they’re gonna possibly come through that land,” Jenny said. “We saved all our lives to buy that land and keep it in the Himsel name, and to even think that it’s gonna be gone … it’s a big blow. Not only to our kids, but to both our families on both sides.”

A document given to meeting attendees outlined the purpose and necessity of the corridor. The handout said the road would improve regional connectivity, regional traffic safety, and connections to major multi-modal locations. It also said the corridor would support economic development.

A map with many potential routes for the proposed north-south roadway was shown at the event. It will take years to nail down the final path.

See the map here >> Preliminary Routes.pdf

In fall 2020, a more refined map with a single, preferred corridor will be defined. The road’s path will then be narrowed leading up to summer 2021, when a more precise route is identified and final approval of the corridor by the Federal Highway Administration is expected.

But even after that process is complete, more detailed studies will follow to determine specific alignments and alternatives within the corridor.

Backed by $7 million in private donations and local government funding, the Indiana Department of Transportation and the Mid-States Corridor project team are conducting an ongoing Tier 1 environmental impact study with Lochmueller Group that will determine the exact route the roadway will follow.

The study is required by the National Environmental Policy Act for major construction projects that will include federal funding, and it assesses the benefits, impacts and cost of the project.

It will examine the concept of constructing an improved highway connection, beginning at the Ohio River near Rockport, continuing through Spencer and Dubois counties, and extending north to connect to Interstate 69.

Thursday’s event was the third of its kind hosted by the Mid-States Corridor project team this week. It was designed to disperse information about the project and its upcoming steps as well as give attendees a platform to provide their own input. Representatives from the group stressed that public involvement is crucial as they go through the processing part of the data-driven project.

“The input that you give absolutely matters,” David Goffinet, the project’s public involvement director, told the crowd, later adding that specifics matter. “Whether you are supportive of a particular route, supportive of the project, in general, or not supportive — suggesting you are or aren’t is great. But more specifics. Why? Why you are, why you are not. That matters in our data gathering process.”

Larry Kern of St. Henry owns 20 acres of property in Martin County that he uses for deer hunting. He came to the meeting and was relieved when he saw the map and that his land wasn’t in danger.

Greg and Sarah Krodel of Jasper live on Newton Street in Jasper. They said they have a vested interest in the corridor because they reside on a busy highway.

“We need relief,” Greg said. “Jasper needs relief through town.”

Added Sarah: “It’s noisy and it’s not safe as it is right now. All the big trucks that are coming through, there are kids that get off the school bus there on Newton Street. So, it’s residential, but here we have a major highway coming through. It’s not a good idea.”

Wayne Schnarr lives northwest of Ireland. He said he’s not necessarily opposed to a new road, but, of course, he doesn’t want it to go through his family farm, either.

“Everybody’s saying that, I’m sure,” he said.




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