Study will consider 5 Mid-States Corridor routesApril 18, 2019
By CANDY NEAL
FERDINAND — When and how the Mid-States Corridor will be completed after the initial study on the project is done are burning questions people have been wanting answered.
“I know what you’re thinking,” Mark Schroeder told the group of 400 people at Dubois Strong’s annual luncheon Thursday. “How long is this [study] going to take? What happens after it’s done? What kind of road is going to be built? And what will the route be?
“And my answer to those questions is, it depends on who you ask.”
Schroeder, president of the Mid-States Corridor Regional Development Authority working with the state on the Mid-States Corridor, explained what he could about the project, including the most recent developments.
The goal of the ongoing work is 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 Interstate 69.
The project’s latest development was earlier this month with the selection of the Lochmueller Group of Evansville as the consultant for the Tier 1 study for the project. The next step is negotiating the project scope and final contract between the consultant, the Indiana Department of Transportation and the RDA. That is expected to take about two months, Schroeder said.
The $7.3 million in local pledges were instrumental in getting the Tier 1 study started so soon, he said. That includes $3.8 million in donations from businesses in Dubois and Spencer counties and $3.5 million pledged by government, including $1.75 million from Dubois County, $1.4 million from Jasper and $350,000 from Huntingburg.
Lochmueller plans to finish the Tier 1 study in two years, which will be in the third quarter of 2021. “This will be just in time to get whatever follows this to be included in INDOT’s 2022 statewide transportation plan,” Schroeder said.
Lochmueller must look at every possible route and look at the cost benefit of each, as well as the reasonable range on the alternatives of the type of road. The study will also determine if the project should be done in phases.
There are five potential routes that Lochmueller will study.
“They will seek input from the public and will explain their findings as they make their decision for each of these routes,” Schroeder said.
The Federal Highway Administration, from which the bulk of the funding would come, has strict guidelines for the study.
“It has to be well documented, factually supported and independent,” Schroeder said. “We don’t want to do or say anything to cause the project to be tainted in the eyes of the Federal Highway Administration.” With that, the RDA cannot try to influence or steer the consultant on a particular route or specific kind of road, he said.
“That’s where you come in. You’re the group that needs to actively and assertively advocate to consultants, to INDOT, and to the state and federal elected officials,” Schroeder said to the audience. “You can and should advocate for what you believe is the best type of roadway and route for the Mid-States Corridor.”
There will be many chances for the public to voice their opinion as the Tier 1 study is being done, Schroeder said. Public meetings should start later this year.
“I encourage you to speak up and take advantage of every opportunity to have your voice heard in this process.” Schroeder said. “It’s way past the time that we get a return on the tax dollars we’ve sent to Indianapolis for years and years. This Mid-States Corridor is that opportunity.”
“We need to do whatever it takes to make this happen,” Schroeder concluded. “It will take all of us working together as a team to make this highway a reality.”
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