Letter: Studies don’t address what is lost by Mid-States Corridor

The inclusion of several new “variations to the preferred route in the Loogootee area” of the proposed Mid-States Corridor clearly misses the point of the huge number of objections to this latest plan to construct yet another NAFTA highway through the region. In addition, the fact that there has been no demonstrated need for this new highway is clearly not being addressed.

Tweaking the pathway the route follows would simply move the highway’s path from one person’s land to someone else’s property in order to expand industrialization and to funnel goods from one end of the continent to another, while the profits from this funnel up and away from most individuals who live here. It wouldn’t solve the traffic issues here and wouldn’t benefit the region in any substantial way.

No, the problem is not just with individual routes, which simply determine which persons would lose their homes and, quite possibly, their livelihoods as well. The problem is this: building a new highway along ANY of the routes would mean that the entire region would lose the most valuable thing we now have—the relatively good quality of life available here. Sadly, the current Bernardin-Lochmeuller study does not account for the things that would be lost if this highway were built, including the quality of life and associated destruction of communities along it.

Additionally, it would lead to further destruction of priceless and important natural resources in a rapidly changing world. A good many of the people in the entire region live here because they value the amenities no amount of money can provide, things like a relatively safe and quiet, rural /small town ambiance and rural landscapes filled with a diversity of life offering both a livelihood for many as well as recreational and other possibilities that only these smaller off-the-beaten-path regions can provide.

In addition, no demonstrable need of any kind has ever been shown for this project—not in the current study nor in the several expensive studies done over the past 40 years. Who says that Jasper, the major town along the route should grow to a bigger, far-less manageable size at the expense of the entire region?

Undeveloped rural areas like this one are just as necessary for the well-being of the region and of the state. In fact, they are more necessary these days because we have lost so many of them already thanks to climate change and the depletion of natural resources they contain. That’s an important issue that neither the current study nor any of the previous ones have ever addressed. This highway plan reflects only the desires of a few individuals who would be enriched at the expense of destroying the many meaningful and priceless things which serve us far better than those things which only money can buy.

The only sensible alternative is to stop any more wildly expensive taxpayer-funded studies and work together to create a better, more livable present and future for this region of Indiana. We need to fix the roads we have and protect, improve, and restore the things that matter most: A safe and sane quality of life for all!–now and into the future.

Jeanne Melchior, Jasper