Letter: Take this wildly destructive highway off the books forever

I was born in Jasper and lived much of my life in Dubois County, returning after college and employment in two urban areas in 1978. I saw firsthand there the damage which rapid growth and uncontrolled technology could do, and I came home to live quietly in the woods among trees and family in this small community where I could still see the stars at night. For much of my life I was part of Protect Our Woods, a local grass roots advocacy group that has worked to protect our forests, farmland, and quality of life in rural southern Indiana since 1985. While POW is no longer an entity, many of us are still here advocating for forest preservation, biodiversity, and all the things that make this a good place to call home.

 We have been speaking out in opposition to the many incarnations of a “mid-states corridor” for nearly 40 years, recognizing that these mega-highways, along with the communities and farms that they bypass and the damaging development which follows them, destroy not only the land, but the lives of the people and the very heart and soul of the place itself.

Backed by indigenous wisdom, by common sense, and increasingly, by scientific observation, we understand that highways don’t bring with them any kind of prosperity for those who live close to them or within the towns they bypass. Any wealth that they promise—mostly financial gain for a distant few, is offset by the loss of so many things which are truly priceless.

We know this in our bones, and it’s why so many of us are standing up and saying, “Enough! It’s time to take this wildly destructive mid-states highway off the books entirely!”

Instead of investing in an exorbitantly priced new highway that wouldn’t pay for itself over its lifetime,  let’s fix the roads we have, which studies show have a better payoff than a new one would, and work together to protect and nourish the qualities that have made this area truly prosperous. Let’s make it the best off-the-beaten-path rural community anywhere.

Jeanne Melchior, Jasper