Hundreds attend Mid-States Corridor meetingFebruary 21, 2020
By CANDY NEAL
JASPER — About 500 people filled Jasper Middle School’s cafeteria Thursday evening to get a closer look at the preliminary Mid-States Corridor route proposals.
They looked at oversized boards that showed each of the five routes individually, and talked with the project design team before packing into the school auditorium to hear a presentation about the routes.
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 section that is being focused on starts at U.S. 231 near I-64.
It’s those route proposals that the hundreds in attendance were concerned about.
People were vocal as they walked around and looked at the options. Comments like, “Routes M and O will take out some of the forest,” and “Route B makes the most sense, since it’s the shortest,” and “Route B will take some of my parents’ land.” No one The Herald asked wanted to speak on the record. But many said they wanted to get a better look at the routes’ locations and to see if anyone knew which ones were being favored.
That answer isn’t known yet. Public Involvement Coordinator David Goffinet of Lochmueller Group said researchers are looking for more public input on the proposed routes as they continue the study.
Each person received a copy of the map showing the routes, a business card with information about contacting the Mid-States Corridor office and a paper questionnaire. The questionnaire asks for the person’s route preference, road preference and any other comments the person would like to share. The questionnaire is also available online at the Mid-States Corridor website, www.midstatescorridor.com. Paper copies can also be filled out at the project office.
Goffinet asked people to fill out the questionnaire and to encourage others to do the same.
“Your input very much matters,” he said. “Even if you’re vehemently opposed to this project, our hope would be that you wouldn’t stop at saying ‘I’m opposed,’ but you would tell us why. Because the why does matter to us.”
In the presentation, Project Manager Jason DuPont of Lochmueller explained the long process that led to narrowing down numerous route options to the five under consideration. He also explained the three types of roads each one could be, and how those were determined for each route. All that information is listed in the Screening of Alternatives Report available online at www.midstatescorridor.com or at the project office, which is located in the administration office at Vincennes University Jasper.
Each route is known by a letter, and has designated road types.
Route “B” connects to I-69 near Washington. It bypasses Huntingburg and Jasper to the west, runs northwest, west of Glendale Fish and Wildlife Area to connect to I-69 at a new interchange south of the U.S. 50 interchange. It is 34 miles long.
Route “C” connects to I-69 at the existing U.S. 50 interchange. It also bypasses Huntingburg and Jasper on the west and continues northwest. But it runs east of Glendale Fish and Wildlife Area and connects to I-69 at the existing U.S. 50 interchange, using a portion of U.S. 50 just east of the interchange. It is 42 miles long.
Route “M,” which is 40 miles long, connects to State Road 37 near Bedford; State Road 37 connects to I-69 south of Bloomington. Route “M” bypasses Huntingburg and Jasper to the east, continues north, mostly parallel to U.S. 231. It bypasses Loogootee to the east and then swings northeast, either using or paralleling State Road 450, until it reaches State Road 37.
Route “O” connects to State Road 37 near Mitchell; State Road 37 connects to I-69 south of Bloomington. This route bypasses Huntingburg and Jasper to the east and runs northeast parallel to the current SR 56. The route bypasses French Lick and West Baden to the south and ultimately connects to State Road 37 south of Mitchell. This route runs 51 miles.
Route “P” runs through the middle of Dubois County, connecting to I-69 at its existing U.S. 231 interchange. The route bypasses Huntingburg and Jasper to the east and continues north, running parallel to and east of U.S. 231. A section of the route bypasses Loogootee to the east, but another section shows it also possibly bypassing the city to the west. Route “P” connects to I-69 at its existing U.S. 231 interchange. It is 54 miles long.
Three road types are being considered: freeway, expressway and Super-2. A freeway has at least two lanes going in each direction with access provided only at interchanges, like I-69 in Gibson County. An expressway has at least two lanes going in each direction, like U.S. 231 in Spencer County; It can be accessed by a combination of interchanges and at-grade intersections with state and local roads. A Super-2 road has one travel lane in each direction and a passing/auxiliary lane, like State Road 145 in Orange County; it can also have wider shoulders where it is appropriate.
DuPont explained that Routes “B” and “O” each have one road type, which is the expressway. Route “C” could be a freeway or expressway. Routes “M” and “P” could be a freeway, expressway or Super-2 road.
There is opposition to the project. Those who came to the public meeting found an anonymous letter on their cars as they left that stated opposition. Some of the objections in the letter were that any project will take people’s land from them and cost taxpayers a lot of money to build the road. The letter also states that the road will hurt small businesses by diverting traffic from Jasper, while benefiting large businesses. The letter ends by encouraging people to contact their officials: representatives, senators, mayors and council members.
A petition was started on Change.org Thursday morning, titled “Save the Hoosier National Forest. Stop the proposed Mid-States Corridor,” with a goal of getting 5,000 signatures. As of this morning, more than 3,000 people had signed the petition.
A single route proposal is expected to be announced this fall, DuPont said Thursday evening. Another round of public meetings will be held at that time.
After a route proposal is announced this fall, more regulatory reviews will be done, he said “hopefully with a clear highway decision being made in mid-21.”
The project office is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Appointments can also be made on other days by calling the office at 812-482-3116.
The full screening report and the questionnaire can be found on the project website, www.midstatescorridor.com.
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