Opinions abound on proposed Mid-States Corridor

By CANDY NEAL
cneal@dcherald.com

As the study of the Mid-States Corridor continues, people have expressed strong opinions for and against the proposed new road and the different proposed routes.

That in itself is a problem, said Jeanne Melchior, who does not support the road.

“One of the worst things about this highway is that the way it’s situated with these different routes, it’s really pitting neighbor against neighbor,” the Jasper resident said. “People in this community are gonna fight. People who live along that route who don’t want their land taken will say, ‘Oh, well I want to have it on the other route.’ And that really causes a lot of division between neighbors.”

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 Lochmueller Group has been studying route options and different road types. They have been narrowed down to five route options: two running west of U.S. 231, one running somewhat parallel to the state road in Dubois County, and two running east of the road. Those options were shown at a series of community meetings in February. The options will be narrowed down to one proposed option this fall, which will be studied to determine a single route, possibly by next summer.

There is local support for the road. Ferdinand resident Mary Dauby was one of the many online commenters on The Herald’s Facebook page who believes the new road is needed.

“I feel that we have to look to the future for Southwestern Indiana,” she told The Herald. “Our infrastructure is sorely lacking in a direct connection to Indianapolis. The antiquated infrastructure needs to improve so our area can grow.

“We have a lot to offer, and with the Midstates Corridor, there is opportunity.”

Dubois Strong, the county’s economic development organization, supports having a road, though it does not have a route preference, organization head Ed Cole said.

“From an economic development standpoint, connectivity to highways and the ability to transport freight and transport people efficiently is huge,” he said. “You can’t underestimate that kind of connection.”

The organization is seeking a consultant to generate a study about the economic impact the road would have on this county. But the organization believes the road will benefit the area.

“It will be beneficial overall for the businesses and the ability to get to and from Indianapolis,” Cole said. “That is the biggest issue, getting north. But we have no preference to a route at all.”

After the recent round of community meetings in February showing the route options, people who are against the road have organized and become more vocal.

One group that is actively trying to stop the project is called Stop the Mid-States Corridor. Karen Lindsey, one of the administrators of the Facebook page, explained the group’s objections.

“As a collective, our main concern is to protect our community members from losing their homes, precious land resources and, for some, possibly their livelihood,” she wrote. “My hope is to save homes and land, both public and private; to protect the Hoosier National Forest from fragmentation [and] surface runoff; and to protect endangered species habitat and the extremely sensitive karst areas that are along the routes running through some of the proposed corridors.”

Dauby thinks utilizing land for the road is worth it if it means improvements to the infrastructure in this area. “If it benefits our area, I feel the sacrifice is well worth it,” she said. “And I feel this is one of those instances.”

The organization understands the support for the road from an economical standpoint, “however all the options must be weighed both financially and environmentally for this corridor,” Lindsey wrote. “It is my belief that the desires of a few should not take precedence over the detriment to many people. Some things are worth more than saving a few minutes and a few dollars.”

Melchior is concerned about how the road will impact the Dubois County community as a whole. “It will have impacts not only on the land, but on the community itself. It will cause growth in the community, which some people may want, but I don’t think that that’s necessarily a good thing,” she said. “It can be if it’s a small scale. But when something grows rapidly, then it really is damaging to a community. You can see that [at] just about any of these places that have experienced rapid growth. They don’t fare well.“

Stop the Mid-States Corridor has a petition through Change.org named “Save the Hoosier National Forest. Stop the proposed Mid-States Corridor.” As of this morning, 14,600 had signed it.




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