Study shows economic impact of Mid-States CorridorMarch 3, 2021
By CHRISTINE STEPHENSON
JASPER — A recent study shows that the Mid-States Corridor could lead to an increase in economic activity and employment opportunities, less road congestion and fewer accidents in and around Dubois County.
The study was conducted by Dubois Strong in partnership with Hunden Strategic Partners Inc. Dubois Strong is a local organization that focuses on workforce population and business growth.
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.
The study analyzed traffic counts on U.S. 231 which showed how congested the road can be, which causes the route to be less efficient — especially for freight vehicles — and more dangerous, Dubois Strong President Ed Cole said.
Because U.S. 231 is often backed up, truck traffic avoids the route and instead uses interstates 65 and 69, which then become congested, as well. Large companies sometimes relocate out of Indiana or choose not to move to Indiana because of this, Cole said.
With the Mid-States Corridor, traffic is expected to increase, especially truck traffic — but accidents are projected to decrease by 50%.
“That’s because it’s going to be on a divided highway,” Cole said. “There may be some traffic that is pulled into the county, but it’s not going to go through the center of town.”
Additionally, the route will improve economic activity by linking airports, the study said.
“Increased accessibility to the Indianapolis International Airport will have major benefits to supply chain activity,” Travis McQueen, airport manager of the Dubois County Airport Authority, said in a press release about the study. “It also has the potential to improve access to state attractions, bringing Indiana tourism to new heights.”
The study also stated the corridor will generate an estimated $1 billion per year in new spending and save $1 million per week on vehicle maintenance and gas for Dubois and Spencer counties. Additionally, it would support an estimated 7,000 new jobs throughout a 30-year period, Cole said.
“That’s going to be because of a combination of across the board,” he said. “The ease of getting here, the ease of shipping, employers being able to expand and bring in more goods and services, all those types of things come into play.”
A common concern in many rural areas is declining population. Although Dubois County is not projected to decrease its population in the coming years, regardless of the Mid-States Corridor, it is the county with the highest population and GDP that is not directly accessible by a four-lane expressway.
The Mid-States Corridor is projected to double the county’s population growth, the study reported.
“There’s going to be more job opportunities, more opportunities for local businesses to grow and for them to need to hire people,” Cole said. “And the ease of getting to and from work, that would make it easier for them to want to live here.”
Despite the potential positive economic impact, many Dubois County residents are concerned about the downsides, which could potentially upend lives.
Those opposed often state that the new road will take people’s land from them and actually end up hurting small businesses by diverting traffic from Jasper.
Additionally, some worry about the tax increase that will come with building the route. The study said there will be an estimated $4.3 million garnered per year through local taxes.
The preferred corridor route is expected to be named by this fall and will be followed by public hearings and a formal comment period, where residents will be able to express their approval or concerns.
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