Answers are still short for the inquiries most residents have for the proposed Midstates Corridor destined to cut through Dubois County.
But, the project managers want those questions and comments to come in as they move forward in the first phase of the Tier One study.
To make it easier, the 250 attendees to the public meeting held at Jasper High School were invited to write their questions and comments down on special information sheets handed out as they entered the cafeteria Thursday evening.
Thursday, in broad swaths of red west and east of U.S. 231, the potential areas for the corridor were on display again. Those red swaths on the map have Dubois County residents worried as they wonder if their homes and properties will be impacted by the potential route.
The eastern study area encompasses Kyle and Kendra Friedman’s property near Dubois. The young couple purchased the 10-acres about three years ago with the intentions to build their home there. However, one of the blue routes out of the county — there are five blue routes — passes over their property.
They just finished the plans for their home and were set to build beginning later this month. With the road potentially in their future, they aren’t sure what they should do.
Unfortunately, general answers to those questions are likely two years down the road while the specific answers are four years away.
“This is the time to be heard, so if you have an opinion, now is the time to have your voice heard in the process,”Mindy Peterson, project spokesperson
Representatives from the Lochmueller Group — the company managing the Tier 1 environmental study — presented a timeline to the attendees Thursday.
The series of meetings held this week around the region — one occurred in Washington and a second in French Lick earlier in the week — are part of the initial preparations to begin the Tier One study.
Tier 1 Studies begin by setting a purpose and need for the project; this has already been accomplished with previous studies completed by the MidStates Corridor group.
With three potential routes outlined on a map through the county, the group will begin to examine each at every level from human or environmental impacts, the cost benefits, and also the type of roadway to determine which route would be the preferred route.
Basically, this will narrow down one of the three routes on the map. According to David Goffinet, a project group member, this designation will be completed by the fall of 2020 and only narrow down the general path of the road in the red area outlined on the map.
In the late summer or fall of 2020, the public will have a comment period and public hearings will occur before the route is approved. The final approval of the route will be made in early 2021 and will be submitted to the Federal Highway Administration by the summer of 2021.
Those outlined areas represent a path that is two-miles wide and after the preferred route is turned into the Federal Highway Administration, the second tiered study will begin to narrow down the exact location of the highway within that area. This process will take about another two years to complete.
Basically, home and property owners have about four years before they have an exact determination of where the Midstates Corridor could run through the county.
According to Mindy Peterson, project spokesperson, it is important that the public be involved with the process early on.
“It is a long process, but there is a reason for the process,” she explained. “This study will look at all the potential impacts of a project like this, and it speaks to what people are asking about; benefits, impacts, and costs.”
Referring to the Friedmans’ and other property owners’ concerns, Peterson said the study will take into account those impacts. “We are in the process of defining those (human) impacts through the screening process that is underway now,” she said.
She explained that the project group will come back to the public next year with more answers after they accumulate more information.
“This is the time to be heard, so if you have an opinion, now is the time to have your voice heard in the process,” she said.
In addition to the sheets handed out at the public meeting, more information — including Thursday’s presentation — will be made available online at www.midstatescorridor.com. Comments and questions can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The group has also established a project office at the Vincennes University Jasper Campus in the administration building. The office is open Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 8 a.m to 5 p.m. and the public is invited to stop in to ask questions, get information and make comments.