Opposition speaks out against corridor

Allen Laman/The Herald
Mark Nowotarski of Jasper speaks at the Stop the Mid-States Corridor Rally at the Courthouse Square in Jasper on Saturday morning.

By ALLEN LAMAN
alaman@dcherald.com

JASPER — Use your voice.

That was the message pushed Saturday at a rally organized by a group whose mission is to stop the construction of a new highway through parts of Southern Indiana. Politicians, concerned residents and others all gathered at the Courthouse Square in Jasper to speak out against the proposed Mid-States Corridor.

“It’s my understanding that few folks actually want this project,” Dr. Woody Myers, the Democratic nominee for Governor of Indiana, told the more than 100 attendees. “And I tried to look it up and see why they wanted it. And the reasons didn’t seem very clear to me.”

He continued: “It seemed like it was much more of a solution in search of a problem. That’s what it seemed like as I examined the evidence.”

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. The options will likely be narrowed down to one proposed option in 2021, which will be studied to determine a more specific single route.

Sheila Wendholt, a member of the Stop the Mid-States Corridor Project leadership team, explained that Saturday’s rally was designed to inform people about the corridor project. The second gathering hosted on the Courthouse Square by the group since early August, it was also meant to show that the opposition is not going away, Wendholt said, and that, “we’re not giving up no matter what.”

“I think it affects us all,” she said of the proposed corridor. “It’s not just going to affect the farmers. It’s going to affect everyone in some way or another. Just the danger of the road, cutting through people’s properties, cutting through their neighbors’ properties. And for what?”

A study done by the Indiana Department of Transportation concluded that U.S. 231 from the south side of Huntingburg to the north side of Jasper will operate at a Level F service by 2030. Earlier this month, Hank Menke, who is leading the coalition working to bring the road to the area, said that the road will help not only the businesses and industry — but it could bring other businesses, like tech companies, to the area.

“We have to look at diversity,” he said at Dubois Strong’s annual meeting on Sept. 2. “It’s important that we support industry and we support diversity in industry,” he said. “We want our grandchildren, we want our great-grandchildren, we want them moving back here and getting high-paying jobs.”

Wendholt is aware of the traffic issues. Still, she feels that the small communities of St. Henry, Duff, and Holland shouldn’t be tasked with shouldering the solution to those problems.

“We don’t want it to go anywhere,” she said of the group’s members. “We don’t want it to go east. We don’t want it to go west. We don’t want it. They need to think of something else.”

Dr. Meyers, lieutenant governor candidate Linda Lawson, eighth congressional district candidate Thomasina Marsili, Jeff Stant of Indiana Forest Alliance, Tim Mahoney of the Hoosier Environmental Council and more all spoke at Saturday’s event. Before it began, Mark Nowotarski — the rally’s master of ceremonies — told attendees that a petition launched by the Stop the Mid-States Corridor group was approaching 3,500 signatures.

“I want to kick this off by first saying that all our voices do matter,” Nowotarski said. “I’ve talked to several people around town and other places that think this is a done deal, you can’t do anything about it … and I just keep telling them and stressing that is not true. And as a result, we’ve continued to grow our grassroots movement here and [have] some exciting things happening.”




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