Mid-States route options narrowed to five


Options for a highway that would run through Dubois County to connect to Interstate 69 have been narrowed down to 10 road-type options along five routes.

Those preliminary routes and options, called alternatives, were released by the Mid-States Corridor in a report called “Screening of Alternatives Report.” They will be shown and explained at three public meetings next week.

See the full report here

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.

At the moment, each of the five preliminary routes is known by a letter: B, C, M, O and P. They all start at U.S. 231 near I-64.

The route known as “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.

The route known as “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 Interstate 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 Interstate 69 south of Bloomington. This route bypasses Huntingburg and Jasper to the east and runs northeast, parallel to the current State Road 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” also 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 the current 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.

The alternatives are road types researchers have determined would work best for the different options. 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.

An expressway has at least two lanes going in each direction. 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; it can also have wider shoulders where it is appropriate. It could be used as one direction of a future freeway or expressway.

Routes “B” and “O” each have one alternative listed in the report: as an expressway. Researchers listed two alternatives for route “C”: a freeway and an expressway. All three options — freeway, expressway and super-2 road — are viable alternatives for routes “M” and “P,” according to the report.

The road’s designation has not yet been determined.

“It would depend on the facility type,” project spokeswoman Mindy Peterson said. “It is too early to say what the designation would be as far as the route. But everything would have some amount of limited access.”

These five preliminary routes and 10 alternatives were selected after dozens of routes were researched, Peterson said; that work started last summer. They were all analyzed based on various performance measures, some of which are safety, savings in the hours of travel for trucks and vehicles, labor force access and access to major business markets. The different routes were also analyzed as they pertained to the impact on resources, some of which are forests, streams, floodplains and acres of new right of way that would be needed.

“When you’re getting down to the one, it’s really about the impacts, performance and cost,” Peterson said. “That is kind of the yardstick that you’re measuring these alternatives by.”

The list of many routes was narrowed down to 10 routes with 28 alternatives, Peterson said, and then to the current five routes with 10 alternatives. A preferred route is expected to be announced sometime this fall, she said.

The costs for each route and the alternatives have not been completely determined. But in the screenings report, it lists estimated construction costs per mile of road based on each type of road that is being considered in this analysis.

Most of those types are designated for a rural area, but there is one type for an urban area.

Under rural, construction cost for a freeway is estimated at $11.3 million per level mile and $19 million per rolling mile. For an expressway, the cost could be $8.2 million per level mile and $13.8 million per rolling mile. A super-2 road could be $6.9 million per level mile and $7.5 million per rolling mile.

The one cost listed under urban is for a level mile of super-2 road: $10.7 million; the other types are not applicable to this analysis, researchers determined.

For access types, the report estimates the unit price being $6.2 million for a grade separation and $20.5 million for an interchange.

The estimates are based on previously constructed projects similar to the kind of route constructions being analyzed in the report. They do not include costs for rights of way, relocations, design construction management, utility relocation or contingencies.

“The cost at this stage is only a comparative cost of construction cost estimates,” Peterson said. “The project team will continue to define costs, and that would likely be more defined with the [draft environmental impact statement] this fall.”

Three public meetings will be held next week to give people a chance to review and give input on the route proposals. They are scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 18, at Loogootee High School, 201 Brooks Ave.; Wednesday, Feb. 19, at Bedford Middle School, 1501 N St.; and Thursday, Feb. 20, at Jasper Middle School, 3600 N. Portersville Rd. The meetings are scheduled to run 5:30 to 7 p.m., with a presentation being done by project team members.

People can also fill out a questionnaire online to state their road preferences. Paper copies will also be available at next week’s meetings, and are also available at the Mid-States Corridor office in room 216 of Vincennes University Jasper’s administration building, 850 College Ave. Office hours are 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 at www.midstatescorridor.com. Completed questionnaires will be accepted through March 23.

This is all part of the required Tier 1 environmental study. The draft environmental impact statement is expected to be published this fall, and will identify a preferred corridor. After that, a record of decision, which is the Federal Highway Administration’s final approval of a preferred corridor, is expected to happen in summer 2021. Once this is done, more detailed Tier 2 environmental studies will determine specific alignments and preferred alternatives within the selected Tier 1 corridor.

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