Menke: Sacrifices will come with Midstate Corridor

Allen Laman/The Herald
Hank Menke, left, speaks about the benefits of the proposed Midstate Corridor during the Rotary Club of Jasper's leadership luncheon Thursday.

By ALLEN LAMAN
alaman@dcherald.com

JASPER — The prospect of constructing a north and south Midstate Corridor highway has made strides recently, and a group of the roadway’s proponents spoke Thursday at a Rotary Club of Jasper leadership luncheon about the benefits the discussed corridor would bring to Dubois County.

After the luncheon, Attorney Bill Kaiser, representing the Midstate Corridor Regional Development Authority, said the proposed highway is needed to connect Dubois County to the world.

“We need this highway to keep our community vibrant and alive and connected to the rest of the world from a physical transportation standpoint,” he said.

Though an accurate sketch of the route does not exist because the precise route of the potential corridor will depend on the findings of a three-year, environmental impact study, Kaiser explained that the area studied will stretch from the Ohio River, through Dubois County to a connection point at Interstate 69.

An estimated $7 million is required to complete an environmental impact study that would qualify the project for federal funding — dollars that Kaiser said will be essential in building the expensive roadway.

Already, $3.8 million has been committed to the study by private donors, and the City of Jasper recently agreed to contribute approximately $1.4 million to the project during a three-year span. The RDA has requested that Dubois County and the City of Huntingburg also contribute approximately $1.75 million and $350,000 respectively to the project, but votes regarding the involvement of those entities have not yet taken place.

Following speeches by Kaiser, OFS President and CEO Hank Menke and Jasper Mayor Terry Seitz, the floor was opened for questions at Thursday’s luncheon.

Some attendees expressed concerns that their homes are located in the path that past maps have shown the corridor following, but the group at the front of the room said it’s just too early to tell where exactly the road will run.

Menke — who said his employees at OFS do not use U.S. 231 for transport because of how dangerous the road is — explained that the existing corridor maps have a “pencil line” route drawn. After the luncheon, he acknowledged that sacrifices will need to be made to make the highway a reality and actualize all the good it can bring to the region.

“I realize that wherever this road might go, there’s going to be sacrifices made,” Menke said, adding that the RDA wants the road to be straight and not twist and turn. “There’s gotta be sacrifices made, and I totally understand it. We wouldn’t have Interstate 64, we wouldn’t have (Interstate) 69, we wouldn’t have these interstate roads if somebody didn’t give somewhere to make it happen. I think what we’ve all gotta recognize is it’s our region, it’s our community.”

Kaiser said during the luncheon that the RDA has received unanimous support from businesses and community members in meetings centered on the project. The expectation, he said, is that in a week or two, the RDA will sign an agreement with the Indiana Department of Transportation, and a study consultant will be selected late this year or in early 2019.




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