Work continues to make Midstate Corridor realityFebruary 22, 2018
By CANDY NEAL
Efforts to get the Midstate Corridor — a bypass road that would ultimately connect Dubois County to I-69 — built are ongoing.
The regional development authority is still being formed with Dubois and Spencer counties, Huntingburg and Jasper.
Also, local attorney Bill Kaiser, who has been involved in helping the counties and cities form the RDA, has been working on the wording of an agreement with the Indiana Department of Transportation. The agreement will be for a feasibility study on the project, which Kaiser called a Tier 1 study.
The Midstate Corridor group has been working 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 RDA group, once formed, would ultimately be the entity to enter into the agreement with INDOT.
“We want to have a clear basis in relationship to the feasibility, cost and location of the roadway through Dubois County,” Kaiser said. “We’re saying that we want this project to become a priority and we would be agreeable to help fund that study. So that is being negotiated.”
Who or where that funding would come from is not yet known, Kaiser said. But the recent legislation that allows the area to create an RDA helps.
The State Legislature passed a bill last year that allows municipalities participating in a regional development authority to create a fund specifically for regional infrastructure projects and contribute local money to those funds. The legislation also permits these RDAs to apply for federal FASTLANE grants from the U.S. Department of Transportation, which fund road and bridge projects. The bill was developed and authored by State Sen. Mark Messmer, R-Jasper, and then-Rep. Mike Braun, R-Jasper, and supported locally by governments and businesses, including the Midstate Corridor group.
Members for the five-person Regional Development Authority committee are being sought. Members cannot be an elected official nor a government employee.
The Dubois County Commissioners said at their meeting Tuesday that they planned to suggest people to be on the committee. All municipalities involved are doing the same, Kaiser said.
The executive branches of each government — the commissioners and mayors — all have to approve of the entire committee in writing, according to state statute.
“That group has to look at a pool of candidates,” Kaiser said. “The people they would eventually appoint would have to be people that have in the past or going forward galvanized public trust. It’s a four-year commitment. It’s a big project. And will have some public scrutiny.”
Kaiser hopes the committee is selected and the agreement with INDOT is completed within the next three months. The Tier 1 study will take about three years to complete.
“The good news is that there is a lot of momentum with the bill Sen. Messmer and former Rep. Braun created that provided the ability to form the authority and pursue the process,” Kaiser said. “The bad news is that building a big road takes time. You have to do all this homework to pull this together. And it will take local input.”
“There are other projects INDOT has committed to that have prior funding commitments,” Kaiser continued. “Dubois County has to do its own initiative to pursue the road, and it will take some time. At least we have this opportunity to make this happen.”
He added that all the effort will be worth it in the long run.
“As a whole, the roadway is extremely important for the continued ability of our citizens to connect with other communities,” Kaiser said, “and for our businesses to connect to the rest of the world.”
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