Preferred path chosen for Mid-States Corridor, environmental impact study released
The Indiana Department of Transportation has picked a preferred route for the Mid-States Corridor Project. It aims to link highways in southern Indiana and spur economic development there. It likely won’t impact the state’s caves, but could still negatively affect forests and wetlands.
The preferred route, called Alternative P, would go between interstates 69 and 64. It follows nearly the same path as highway 231 but bypasses cities like Loogootee, Jasper and Huntingburg.
Tim Maloney is the senior policy director for the Hoosier Environmental Council. He said the fact that some karst lands — which form caves — won’t be affected is encouraging. But it could still impact sensitive wetlands, forests, and hundreds of acres of farmland — especially if INDOT decides to make it a four-lane highway instead of two later on.
“A lot of the disclosure of impacts and exact location don't come until after the general route’s already been chosen. So, it makes it much harder to change,” Maloney said.
Mindy Peterson, spokesperson for the corridor, says the preferred route balances economic development with environmental concerns.
“[Alternative P] has the least amount of impacts to those environmental resources,” Peterson said. “It also has the lowest cost – the lowest environmental impacts, lowest costs.”
Maloney says the route also isn’t set in stone. Other routes like M and O that would cause more harm to karst areas could be reconsidered.
The Hoosier Environmental Council, the Coalition Against the Mid-States Corridor, and others have argued the road project itself is simply not needed.
Peterson says the final environmental impact study will be released early next year, when the Federal Highway Administration is expected to make its official decision on the project. That’s when residents will have the clearest picture of the corridor’s impacts on the environment and themselves – nearly 150 people or businesses could be “relocated” by the current path.
INDOT will hold two public hearings on the project. One in Odon at WestGate Academy April 26. And one at the Jasper Arts Center on Vincennes University’s campus on April 28. Both start at 5:30 p.m.
The Coalition Against the Mid-States Corridor will also host a town hall on April 21 at the Mitchell Emerson School Gym at 6:30 p.m.
The public can comment on the draft environmental impact statementthrough May 31.