Discussions continue on proposed Midstate Corridor

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In the last two weeks, state and local officials and local companies have had discussions about the Midstate Corridor.

A group of local representatives met with Gov. Eric Holcomb and Indiana Department of Transportation Commissioner Joe McGuinness Monday, May 14, in its continued effort to get the state to officially establish the road as a state project.

“It wasn’t negative in any way,” Dubois County Commissioner Elmer Brames said of the meeting with the governor. The commissioners discussed the corridor during their meeting Monday.

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 hopes to get INDOT to make the road more of a priority and is looking to contribute local funding to help the project along.

Brames said that while he didn’t hear any promises from state officials at the 30-minute meeting, he thought the project was still being looked at favorably. Holcomb deferred to McGuinness, who said that he was concerned about the proposed path of the road going through a national forest in Orange County.

“He wondered if that was feasible,” Brames said.

Otherwise, McGuinness was impressed that the Regional Development Authority, which would pursue the project, was in place and that the memorandum of understanding between INDOT and the RDA had been submitted, Brames said. That was sent back to local attorney Bill Kaiser with changes; however, Kaiser indicated the changes were minor, Brames said.

Once that memorandum is signed, hopefully in June, the project will get a number, and then will be able to be considered for federal funding, if INDOT approves constructing the road. INDOT has not yet officially approved it.

Prior to the May 14 meeting, representatives from the county, City of Jasper and City of Huntingburg met to discuss how governments should fund half of the $7 million needed for a required feasibility study for the project.

County Council President Jerry Hunefeld told the Dubois County Council that the county’s share of the funding would be 47 percent. That money could come from using about $800,000 of the income tax revenue the county receives each year for three years. Doing that, he said, would mean that no extra funding would need to be raised.

Hunefeld said the percentages coming from the cities have not yet been determined. While the representatives for the county and cities agreed that the funding would be covered, they decided to ask the other municipalities in the county — Ferdinand, Holland and Birdseye — to also contribute. Those municipalities have not yet been approached, Hunefeld said.

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