County discusses financing of Midstate Corridor

The Midstate Corridor is the proposed bypass road that would ultimately connect Dubois County to I-69. View the full map here: 1-67.PDF (Maps provided)

By CANDY NEAL
cneal@dcherald.com

Information about financing for the Midstate Corridor project was discussed at the Dubois County Council’s Monday meeting.

Attorney Bill Kaiser, representing the Midstate Corridor project, reaffirmed that the original $7 million required for the first needed feasibility study would have to come from local funding: half from private industry and half from public municipalities.

The Midstate Corridor is the proposed bypass road that would ultimately connect Dubois County to I-69.

Not having the road will ultimately have huge negative economic impact to our area, Kaiser stated. “We cannot be cut off from the rest of the world logistically, because (we don’t have) the road,” he said. “That would be a real challenge. We can’t be this far from I-69 and not be connected to it.”

No determinations were made or suggested as to how the $3.5 million needed for the study would be split among the public entities; the public officials will likely have to meet to discuss the matter, Council President Jerry Hunefeld said.

The Midstate Corridor group has been working for years to get a four-lane, limited-access highway that would run north from Owensboro, Kentucky, go around Huntingburg and Jasper and continue north to connect to I-69. That corridor would ease traffic on U.S. 231 between I-64 and I-69 through Dubois, Martin and Spencer counties, organizers have said. The group is hoping to get the Indiana Department of Transportation to make the road more of a priority and is looking to contribute local funding to help the project along.

The state Legislature passed a bill last year that allows municipalities participating in a regional development authority to create a fund specifically for regional infrastructure projects and contribute local money to those funds. The legislation also permits these RDAs to apply for federal FASTLANE grants from the U.S. Department of Transportation, which fund road and bridge projects. Dubois and Spencer counties, Jasper and Huntingburg agreed to come together to form the RDA.

Kaiser told the council Monday that the RDA, which will work with the Indiana Department of Transportation on the project, has been proposed. The members are Mark Schroeder, chairman and CEO of German American Bancorp; attorney Scott Blazey; Barry Day, president and CEO of Superior Ag; Sue Ellspermann, president of Ivy Tech Community College; and Ken Mulzer Jr., president of Mulzer Crushed Stone. Each member would serve a four-year term on the board.

Financing for the feasibility study is documented in a memorandum of understanding that will be proposed to INDOT. The memorandum will also state that INDOT will work to validate the corridor as an actual project, which it has not yet done. Kaiser suspects that 90 percent of the project would have to covered by federal funding, though he was not sure if more local funding would be needed in the future.

The memorandum also stipulates that the RDA will be on the team for determining where the road ultimately lies, as well as have a voice in deciding who the consultant will be on the project.

“INDOT has the ultimate say,” Kaiser said. “But we will be in those project meetings. And we will have a say on the consultant.”

The bulk of the cost will come through state and federal funds, though Kaiser doesn’t know that total cost. He estimated that just the section of road going through Dubois County will cost about $300 million alone.

It will take about three years to complete the feasibility study, and some information from a road study done locally in 2011 will be included, Kaiser said.

INDOT would cover the cost to do a second study on a section of the road, which he hopes will be the part that runs through Dubois County, and then record a determination on the road, all of which would be completed about five years from now. If all goes according to plan, road acquisition and design could happen in 2024.

Some of the local people involved in the Midstate Corridor effort, including members of the RDA, will go to Indianapolis May 14 to discuss the project with Gov. Eric Holcomb and INDOT Commissioner Joe McGuinness.




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