(BEDFORD) – A large crowd gathered at Wednesday night’s Mid-States Corridor Project meeting at Bedford Middle School.
Several residents, business representatives, and local officials attended the meeting seeking information, details and giving their feedback on the 12 county area project that seeks to bring a connection from the Ohio River up to Interstate 69.
The Mid- States Project examines the concept of an improved highway connection in southern Indiana. The connection would begin on State Road 66 near the Natcher Bridge and cross the Ohio River at Rockport. It would then continue through the Huntingburg and Jasper area and extend north to connect to Interstate 69.
During the screening process, the project team started working in the summer of 2019 with dozens of potential preliminary alternative routes developed from a review of previous studies, agency feedback, and public input.
Alternative routes that didn’t satisfy the purpose and need of the project or routes that had major impacts on key resources were discarded.
The project team screened 28 preliminary alternatives for 10 different routes. They considered potential impacts, costs, and performance. Ten alternatives are now advancing for more detailed study.
Impacts to both natural resources and the community were considered including:
- Natural environmental impacts
- Residential impacts
- Business impacts
- Managed land impacts
- Cultural resource impacts
Costs: Comparative preliminary construction costs were determined for alternatives. Costs consider facility type and terrain.
Performance of each preliminary alternatives was evaluated against the core goals of the project. including:
- Increase accessibility to major business markets
- Provide more efficient truck/freight travel in Southern Indiana
- Reduce crashes in Southern Indiana
- Increase access to major rail and air intermodal centers.
Three facility types were considered for Mid-States preliminary alternatives freeway, expressway, and Super-2 Arterial.
- At least two lanes in each direction
- Access provided only at interchanges
- At least two lanes in each direction
- Access at the interchange and at grade intersections
- One -travel lane in each direction
- Passing/auxiliary lane and/or wider shoulders where appropriate.
The Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) is expected to be published this fall and will identify a preferred corridor. A Record of Decision (ROD) is expected in the summer of 2021. After a Tier 1 ROD, more detailed Tier 2 environmental studies will determine specific alignments and preferred alternatives within the selected Tier 1 corridor.
- 2019 – Project Team identifies goals and potential preliminary alteratives.
- EARLY 2020- High-Level analysis and screening of each route concept
- FALL 2020 – Fall of Draft Environmental Impact Statement ( DEIS) published and preferred corridor identified.
- EARLY 2021 – All comments considered and preferred corridor refined
- SUMMER 2021 – Selected corridor identified in Record of Decision (ROD)
Around 500 people attended the Monday evening meeting in Loogootee.
Local officials are hoping for a northeast route which will run through Bedford and Mitchell.
“Of course the City of Bedford would benefit if it would come up from the south through Mitchell,” said Bedford Mayor Sam Craig. “This will give people great access to I -69 and access to our city.”
Mitchell Mayor J.D. England stated, “a Northeast Route will help with local tourism and help our city grow.”
“I would think the O Plan would serve Lawrence County the best coming up through French Lick, Mitchell, Bedford and on to Interstate 69. This project will be huge for our local economy,” Mayor J.D. England concluded.
“I would like to see the route come through Lawrence County and provide better access to the Interstate 69,” said Lawrence County Councilman David Flinn.
Some residents attending the meeting were concerned over the route and how it would impact their properties should the project move forward. But, most commented on how beneficial this would be for Lawrence County and how it could open up better economic opportunities to the area.
Thursday’s meeting will be at Jasper Middle School at 3600 North Portersville Road. The meeting will take place from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. with a 6 p.m. presentation.
The project office is opened from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and by appointment at Vincennes University Jasper Campus Administration Building Room 216 or by calling 812-482-3116.
If you can not attend the meeting you can still provide feedback and review materials by going to https://midstatescorridor.com/