Preferred Mid-States route to be identified in the fall

Kylie Schepers/The Herald
All of the five proposed Mid-States Corridor routes start at U.S. 231, just north of Interstate 64.

By CHRISTINE STEPHENSON
cstephenson@dcherald.com

JASPER — A preferred corridor for the Mid-States Corridor project is set to be identified later this year, according to a press release.

The corridor, which will be used for improved highway connection in southern Indiana, will be identified in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement, or DEIS, which should be published this fall. Public hearings will be held after the DEIS is published, including a formal comment period.

The statement will compare benefits, impacts and costs of alternative options. After the team in charge of the project considers all public comments, it will further refine the preferred option in the Final Environmental Impact Statement, or FEIS, and the final corridor will be selected by the Federal Highway Administration, which should occur in summer 2022.

"We've been even more deliberate in this Tier 1 environmental study to reflect some of the challenges raised by the pandemic, the feedback received from stakeholders and comments from the public,” Project Manager Jason DuPont said in the release.

The project team is identifying working alignments within each two-mile study band presented last year and modifying the alternatives to incorporate public feedback. This includes considering upgrades to U.S. 231. Freeway options are not being considered because of higher costs. Options for expressways, which have at least two lanes in each direction and access at intersections, are being considered. Super-2 options, which have one lane in each direction and a passing lane or wider shoulders in some areas, are also being considered.

The public hearings that will take place after the DEIS is published will follow whatever health guidelines are in place at the time and will be available virtually, as well. Comments will be accepted in person, online or by mail during the formal comment period of at least 30 days, and all comments will be addressed in the final statement.

The final statement may be followed by more environmental studies if a build alternative is selected. These further studies do not have a timeframe yet, but are expected to take about two years.

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 section that is being focused on starts at U.S. 231 near I-64.

Dubois County residents have expressed concern about the routes, often stating that the new roads will take people’s land from them, cost taxpayers too much and hurt small businesses by diverting traffic from Jasper. About 500 members of the public attended a meeting in February 2020 to learn more about the route proposals.

A petition was started on Change.org that month, titled “Save the Hoosier National Forest. Stop the proposed Mid-States Corridor,” with a goal of getting 5,000 signatures. As of Tuesday afternoon, about a year after the petition was created, more than 22,000 people had signed it.

Each route is known by a letter, and has designated road types.

Route “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.

Route “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 I-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 I-69 south of Bloomington. This route bypasses Huntingburg and Jasper to the east and runs northeast parallel to the current SR 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” 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 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 Mid-States Corridor project office, which is located at Vincennes University Jasper, is reopening by appointment only. Those who wish to give public feedback can call 812-482-3116, visit midstatescorridor.com or through the mail. The mailing address is Mid-States Corridor Project Office, Vincennes University Jasper Campus Administration Building, Room 216, 850 College Ave., Jasper, IN 47546.




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