Strong opposition heard in public meetings for Mid-States Corridor

The two public hearings for the recently released Tier I Draft Environmental Impact Study (DEIS) were held last week.

Although these two meetings met the requirement for public hearings, the public, businesses and other government entities have until May 31 to submit comments about the proposed improved highway connecting the improved portion of U.S. 231 through Spencer County to I-69 near Crane.

Comments can be submitted through a comment form at the project office on the Vincennes University Jasper Campus located in Administration Building, Room 216, 850 College Avenue; by mail, by email (info@midstatescorridor.com) or directly through the project website here.

According to David Goffinet, Public Involvement Coordinator for Lochmueller Group, all comments have to be considered and entered into the public record. Those that can be addressed, will be and those responses will be included in the public record as well. He expects that after the May 31 deadline, Lochmueller Group will be working on addressing those comments and adjusting the Tier I Environmental Impact Study accordingly.

They plan on having it completed and submitted to the Federal Highway Administration by the end of 2022. The approval of the Final Environmental Impact Study and a Record of Decision is expected from the Federal Highway Administration in early 2023 signifying the completion of the Tier 1 study.

Lochmueller Group began the Tier 1 study in 2019 but Covid-19 slowed progress on its completion. During that time, the group reduced the options from 28 potential routes to 10 and then narrowed it down to five before announcing the preferred route labeled Alternative P.

Alternative P improvements extend 54 miles from I-64/US 231 to I-69 at the existing US 231 interchange. Alternative P travels east of Huntingburg and Jasper, avoiding developed areas in those cities. It generally runs parallel to and west of US 231 in Martin and Daviess counties. It includes a western bypass of Loogootee and ends at the existing I-69 interchange at US 231. A total of nine local improvements along existing U.S. 231 are included with the alternative.

The Tier I corridor is generally 2,000 feet wide along its length. The right of way has not been determined. Final alignments are anticipated to be 200 to 500 feet wide. These will not be determined until Tier 2 studies. A timetable for Tier 2 studies is still being determined, but each is expected to take two to three years to complete.

Both meetings this week were well attended. About 400 people showed up at the Odon meeting on Tuesday with two dozen speaking largely against the improved connection.

Prior to the meetings, Lochmueller’s project manager David Dupont took the audience through a timeline of the group’s studies and reasons for choosing Alternative P as the preferred route.

Thursday, the Jasper Arts Center at VUJ was filled and 22 people gave public comments. The majority of the comments were against the development with several business and political leaders speaking in support of the corridor.

Dubois County Commissioner Elmer Brames spoke in support of the improved highway. He stated the road would make local roads safer and improve connectivity.

Highlights of the comments included Alan Hanselman threatening to move the Schnitzelbank to Florida if the corridor impacts their family’s business or their homes. He said he didn’t stand against the improved north-to-south connection. “You’re taking out five of the family homes that run the Schnitzelbank,” he said. “Believe me, they ain’t going to stay in this community if you take their homes because they’re all getting close to retirement age anyway.”

Jason McCoy, a business owner whose Martin County home is in the path of the proposed route, spoke briefly about the greed driving the development. Rather than using the provided microphones in front of the stage, McCoy walked up on the stage to the podium and spoke directly to the crowd. His rousing speech incited clapping and some boos from the crowd as he seemingly fomented anger by telling the crowd the road would come because they were complacent and lazy. Afterward, he explained he was using sarcasm to hopefully wake people to the outlets they have available to stand against the roadway — mainly through their vote.

Mark Nowartarski stated the group had adjusted its goals to accommodate the choice of Alternative P. He went so far as to say their actions were unlawful and that Alternative P was always the planned decision to accommodate an eastern bypass around Jasper for logistics companies.

Secretary of the Dubois County Farm Bureau Steve Buechler stated the members of the bureau vehemently stand against the Mid-States Corridor project. He pointed out that Alternative P has the second-highest potential for impacting agricultural land and has the highest level of impact on prime farmland in comparison to the other routes according to the DEIS. The DEIS also estimates the loss of agricultural income to be between $977,000 and $1,426,000. He further pointed out the road will detrimentally impact the area’s safety, property taxes, and access to rural roads.

Members of Lochmueller Group, INDOT, and the Mid-States Rural Development Authority listened as a comment was made against the proposed highway.

Farmer David Ring pointed out that the estimates reported in the DEIS regarding the economic impact on agriculture were based on 2016 values. “If you’ve paid any attention to agriculture, it’s probably doubled since 2016,” he said.

Jasper Mayor Dean Vonderheide spoke in support of the project. He explained that the number of vehicle crashes through the city due to the traffic is excessive and the bypass would increase safety as well as economic viability for the area. Jasper has 5.9 miles of U.S. 231 running through the city with 80 access points per mile — 10 times the recommended number of access points to a highway according to INDOT. In the past 16 months, we have recorded 82 accidents along 231 within the municipality,” he said.

You can listen to all the comments made at Thursday’s meeting in the recording below.

Mike Arvin displayed the redacted copy of private donors to the Tier 1 plan. The Martin County farmer pointed out that only $925,000 of the more than $3.7 million donated privately is publicly identified.
Marisa Durcholz addressed the crowd at Thursday’s public hearing. She implored the public to be involved in the next stage of the process to make their voices heard when local public money is being considered for the Tier 2 meeting.



  1. Dubois County Free Press, thank you for recording all the public comments! You do great reporting work for Dubois County. We appreciate what you do every day.

    Folks, the Regional Development Authority meeting is Friday at 4pm at Huntingburg Event Center. The RDA consists of unelected officials working with INDOT on this project. If you are opposed to the road, attend these quarterly meetings.

  2. Awesome article with inclusion of the main points!! Much better than the Herald coverage!
    Thx for your reporting!!??

  3. Excellent ! thank you for including the recording of the meeting, MANY COULD NOT COME. I will SHARE

  4. We don’t need another road. Why don’t we just pave the entire state and paint lines on it? (Sarcasm)

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