Public meetings expected for corridor routes

By CANDY NEAL
cneal@dcherald.com

Public meetings about possible Mid-States Corridor routes are anticipated to be held in mid-to-late February.

This is part of the environmental study that is currently being done for the project. At those meetings, the Lochmueller Group will present the route possibilities and take comments on those possibilities.

“The project team is continuing its work with the screening of potential preliminary alternatives,” project spokeswoman Mindy Peterson said. “The screening process will result in some alternatives being eliminated from the detailed study and others moving forward for additional study.”

The dates and locations of the public meetings have not yet been set, she said.

A report is currently being reviewed by the Indiana Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration, David Goffinet, the Lochmueller Group’s public involvement coordinator, explained. “Once that is complete,” he said, “the meetings will be set.”

For years, work has been done 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 I-69. That corridor would ease traffic on U.S. 231 between I-64 and I-69 through Dubois, Martin and Spencer counties, organizers have said.

The state has agreed to work on the concept, with the first step being a Tier 1 environmental study that the Lochmueller Group is conducting. The cost of the study is $7 million — half of that is being covered by local businesses in the private sector, and the other half will come from local government agencies.

Ultimately, INDOT, along with the FHA, will have the final say in determining the highway’s placement.

“So it’s our job and the public’s job to have our voice heard,” Dubois Commissioner Chad Blessinger said Monday. The commissioners talked about the study and its local funding during their meeting.

County Council President Jerry Hunefeld is working with the cities on the public sector’s portion of the funding, Blessinger said. That includes $1.75 million from the county, $1.4 million from Jasper and $350,000 from Huntingburg. The private sector has its funding in place.

At the upcoming meetings, the Lochmueller team will give a presentation on the study so far, Peterson said.

“The project team will be sharing information, bringing the public up to date on the screening process and the work that has been underway, and getting the public’s feedback on the information shared and presented,” she said. “For example, we had a comment sheet available at the first set of public meetings to gather input, and we expect to have an updated comment form at this set of meetings.”

Those at the meetings can also speak to team members one-on-one. All the feedback will be taken into account as the study continues, Peterson said.

The project team plans to have a draft environmental impact statement done by this fall.

“The [impact statement] includes a detailed analysis of the alternatives being carried forward to identify a preferred corridor,” Peterson said. “At that point, we’ll hold public hearings that will include a formal comment period.”

Information about the project and the ongoing process can be found at www.midstatescorridor.com; the project also has a Twitter and Facebook page.

The Mid-States Corridor team also has an office at Vincennes University Jasper, in room 216 of the administration building, 850 College Ave. Office hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays; appointments can also be set. The office can be reached at 812-482-3116.




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