EVANSVILLE— The Indiana Department of Transportation has chosen a “preferred route” for the Mid-States Corridor, a large road project that would connect more small Southern Indiana communities to Interstate 69.

It could also require INDOT to acquire land from homeowners and take into account the environmental impact of building a highway through a largely rural section of the state.

INDOT selected “Alternative P” over several other options. It announced the decision via a public notice in the classifieds section of the Courier & Press on Monday.

According to that notice, the stretch would start at U.S. 231 in Spencer County and use that existing highway until it hit Interstate 64. The new, 54-mile portion of the road would then branch off and run parallel to U.S. 231 north and south before ending at I-69 just north of the Crane naval base in Martin County.

From 2021:Mid-States Corridor set to identify route despite mounting opposition

It would mostly bypass “developed” parts of towns along the path, including Jasper and Loogootee, the notice states.

Project spokeswoman Mindy Peterson declined to provide specifics – such as why INDOT chose alternative P and what kind of effects it would have on the community – until an environmental impact statement is released Friday.

She said any major changes are still a long way off, and that the project is a “tiered” endeavor with no firm timetable.

“This a multi-year process,” she said. “That’s the expectation we’ve been trying to set from the beginning.”  

INDOT will have two public hearings to field comments from residents, the notice states. The first will take place April 26 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. EST at WestGate Academy in Odon, Indiana. The second will be April 28 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Jasper Arts Center on the Vincennes University Jasper campus.

Those who can’t make the hearings can submit written comments via email, through the Mid-States Corridor website, or by writing to the project office.

Opposition to the project

INDOT says the project would ease travel between Southern Indiana counties and improve "regional traffic safety." 

But the corridor has sparked plenty of public opposition.

White signs decrying the project stand alongside roads throughout Southwestern Indiana. Residents at town halls over the years have claimed the road would hurt businesses by diverting drivers around small towns.

“This is a road that will offer little to no benefit, and only destroy our beautiful farms, homes and environment,” a collective called Stop the Mid-States Corridor wrote on its website. The organization identifies itself as “a grassroots group of homeowners, farmers, small business owners and protectors of the Hoosier National Forest.” More than 3,000 people follow it on Facebook.

A representative with the group told the Courier & Press Monday they would wait to comment on alternative P until INDOT releases the environmental impact report. But they believe the state should update and use existing roads instead of building a new one.

A major concern among the opposition is whether the project will require INDOT to acquire homes.

Peterson said INDOT wouldn’t gather official right-of-way impacts until “tier 2” of the project. But in a study INDOT released in 2020, it stated “alternative P” could impact anywhere from 56 to 91 “residential parcels.”

The project could also require rights for thousands of combined acres of farmlands, wetlands and forest.

Layout of the road

Exact impacts depend on what the road ends up looking like.

INDOT has done studies for three layouts: a freeway; expressway; or “super two.” The freeway, or interstate model, has been ruled out, Peterson said. An expressway would have “at least two lanes in each direction of travel,” while a super two would have one lane going each way with occasional passing lanes or wide shoulders.

A final decision on the layout won’t come until tier 2.

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