The Indiana Department of Transportation announced the agency finalized a partnership agreement with the recently-formed Midstates Regional Development Authority (RDA) to review the concept of a highway in rural southwest Indiana.
The agreement permits INDOT and the Mid-States RDA to move forward together on a Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Midstates Corridor. An EIS is required by the Federal Highway Administration to allow the use of federal transportation funding for major construction projects. The Tier 1 EIS will examine potential impacts to the natural and human environments along a general corridor beginning at the U.S. 231 interchange with Interstate 64 near Dale, north through Dubois County, near the cities of Jasper and Huntingburg, and connecting with Interstate 69 (previous accounts relayed to us included the area between I-64 and the Ohio River). The Tier 1 EIS will identify preliminary alternatives for the project, but not an exact route.
“The collaboration between state, local, and regional partners on this environmental study is a great model for coming together to pursue regional infrastructure improvements,” Joe McGuinness, Commissioner of the Indiana Department of Transportation said. “I’m pleased that by initiating this process we are exploring highway infrastructure improvements in this area in greater detail.”
The partnership model implemented by INDOT and Midstates Corridor RDA was made possible by legislation passed by the Indiana General Assembly in 2017. Senate Enrolled Act (SEA) 128 allows Indiana counties and municipalities participating in an RDA to create a fund specifically for regional infrastructure projects.
“I am excited to see this agreement reached between INDOT and the Mid-States RDA,” State Sen. Mark Messmer said. “This is the first regional infrastructure RDA in Indiana and exactly what I envisioned in 2017 when authoring SEA-128 with State Rep. Mike Braun. We envisioned a process that will allow local government to partner with private industry to help advance regional infrastructure projects across the state.”
Through this unique partnership, Midstate Corridor RDA will provide $7 million in local funding, a combination of funds committed at the county and municipal levels and through private sector participation to cover costs of the environmental study. INDOT will add the Mid-States Corridor to its Statewide Transportation Improvement Plan, making the project eligible for federal matching funds. The agencies will work together to prepare a Request for Proposals (RFP) to secure consultant services, review proposals, select a consulting firm, and review major project findings throughout the study process.
INDOT and Midstates Corridor RDA plan to advertise an RFP for the Tier 1 EIS by the end of 2018 and hope to have a consulting firm under contract in the summer of 2019.
The agreement with INDOT was precipitated by the RDA accumulating $3.8 million in commitments from private industry for the study as well as commitments from the local municipal sources. The City of Jasper has agreed to contribute $1.4 million to the study, The City of Huntingburg agreed to $350,000 and Dubois County is being asked to contribute $1.75 million. The county council is expected to vote on their contribution in a special meeting this evening.