Frequently Asked Questions
The Mid-States Corridor Project examines an improved highway connection in southern Indiana. It would begin at SR 66 near the William H. Natcher Bridge crossing the Ohio River at Rockport, continue generally through the Huntingburg and Jasper area and extend north to connect to Interstate 69.
The Mid-States Corridor Regional Development Authority (RDA) and the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) are conducting the required Tier 1 Environmental Study for the Mid-States Corridor Project. The study will determine a preferred corridor.
The RDA and INDOT initiated a study of the corridor under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The study is required for all federally-funded projects to assess environmental effects before making decisions concerning the construction of highways and other publicly-owned facilities.
The NEPA process includes:
- Analysis and comparison of the benefits, impacts and costs of a range of reasonable alternatives to identify a preferred corridor for the proposed facility
- Assessment of the social, economic and environmental impacts of each corridor, along with consideration of ways to avoid, minimize or mitigate impacts
- Identification of the project’s purpose and need and consideration of a variety of alternatives to meet both including improvements to and use of existing facilities and construction of new roadway facilities
- Analysis of a no-build alternative (Federal regulations require a no-build alternative remain under consideration throughout the Tier 1 study. It is the baseline for comparing the costs, impacts and benefits of other alternatives.)
- Public involvement, including opportunities to participate and comment
- Coordination and consultation with local, state and federal agencies
A Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) will identify a preferred corridor. Final approval of the preferred corridor will come from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) through the issuance of a Record of Decision (ROD).
Regulations allow NEPA studies for large, complex projects to be carried out in a two-staged, “tiered” process. During this Tier 1 study, “big picture” issues are addressed, while taking into account the full range of impacts. It includes fact-based analyses that will support informed decision-making on corridor-wide issues.
The Project Study Area is the region in which project alternatives may be located. It also includes areas which may experience changes in traffic patterns from the project. The Study Area includes Spencer, Dubois, Perry, Warrick, Pike, Daviess, Crawford, Orange, Martin, Lawrence, Greene and Monroe counties.
The proposed purpose and need for the Mid-States Corridor project is to provide an improved transportation link between SR 66 near the US 231/Natcher Bridge and I-69 which:
- Improves regional connectivity for businesses in Dubois County and southern Indiana;
- Improves regional traffic safety in southern Indiana;
- Supports economic development in southern Indiana; and
- Improves connections to major multi-modal locations from southern Indiana.
The Draft Purpose and Need Statement includes detailed analysis supporting this proposed Purpose and Need.
This is a large area and there have been multiple studies examining major north-south transportation enhancements, centering on the US 231 corridor. These studies have determined such projects have significant potential to improve north-south connectivity and regional economic development. The Draft Purpose and Need Statement includes more detailed information.
Meaningful public involvement is a key part of the environmental study process, and there are many ways for members of the public to stay informed and share their opinions. A set of public meetings is held at key project milestones and a set of public hearings will follow publication of the DEIS and include a formal comment period.
The Project Team meets with key stakeholder groups to share information and gather feedback throughout the NEPA process. These groups include elected officials, the project’s Regional Issues Involvement Teams and coordinating agencies. The Project Team is also available to meet with community groups and business organizations.
Project information is available on the project website (www.midstatescorridor.com) and shared on social media channels:
Comments can also be shared by email, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Project Team considered impacts, costs and performance of preliminary alternatives during the screening process. Impacts to both natural resources and the community were considered, including impacts to the natural environment, residences, businesses, managed lands and cultural resources. Comparative preliminary construction costs were determined for each alternative. Costs take into account facility type and terrain. Performance of each preliminary alternative was evaluated against the core goals of the project including increased accessibility to major business markets, more efficient truck/freight travel to southern Indiana, reduced crashes in southern Indiana and increased access to major rail and air intermodal centers. The full screening report is available for review on the project website.
Yes. The Project Team is identifying working alignments within each two-mile study band presented. In addition, the team is modifying the alternatives to incorporate feedback from the public and agencies. That includes examining combinations of alignments and considering upgrades to existing US 231.
The shaded lines on the map represent two-mile wide study bands for each route. The lines within each shaded portion are representative of a 2,000-foot corridor for scale reference only. A preferred corridor will be identified in the Tier 1 DEIS, which is expected in early 2022. The preferred corridor will be a 2,000-foot corridor. If a Build Alternative is selected, more detailed Tier 2 studies will identify specific alignments (300 to 600-foot alignments) and preferred alternatives within the selected Tier 1 corridor.
The Project Team followed a “Best in the Geographic Family” approach to the screening process to ensure a geographically diverse range of alternatives was carried forward for detailed study. This helps ensure finding an alternative that meets the project goals while addressing environmental issues and minimizing project costs. It also provides the opportunity to consider the interests and hear the viewpoints of all potentially affected communities in southern Indiana as a decision is made on which towns, cities and counties will be directly served by the improved highway connection.
Freeway options are no longer being considered because of higher costs. Expressway and Super-2 options are being considered for all routes along with considering upgrades to existing US 231. However, selection of a facility type will be deferred to Tier 2 environmental studies to offer more flexibility when specific alignments are selected. Tier 2 studies will also consider combinations of facility types on the selected route.
An expressway has at least two lanes in each direction and access at both interchanges and at-grade intersections. A Super-2 includes one travel lane in each direction and a passing/auxiliary lane or wider shoulders where appropriate. Existing US 231 upgrades may include Super-2 elements or other 2-lane improvements.
A preferred corridor will be identified in the Tier 1 DEIS, which is expected in early 2022. Publication of the DEIS will be followed by public hearings and a formal comment period. The Project Team will consider all comments and further refine the preferred alternative in the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS). The final corridor will be selected in a Record of Decision (ROD) from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). The Tier 1 FEIS and ROD are expected in late 2022.
The Tier 1 FEIS and ROD are expected to be published in late 2022. These will be followed by more detailed Tier 2 environmental studies if a Build Alternative is selected. The Tier 1 EIS will specify the sections for Tier 2 studies and more detailed analyses. There’s no timetable for the start of Tier 2 studies, but each is expected to take about two years to complete. Those studies will determine specific alignments and preferred alternatives within the selected Tier 1 corridor.
The COVID-19 pandemic is one reason. It has caused uncertainty for many and forced the temporary closure of the project office and the postponement of in-person stakeholder meetings. The project extension has allowed more time to plan appropriate public outreach, and it has allowed for the modification of alternatives and additional analysis. The current economic environment is not the same one in which the Tier 1 environmental study started. Today’s fiscal reality of short-term funding decreases due to COVID and the potential for additional funding through a comprehensive federal infrastructure bill must be considered, along with impacts on local economic development modeling. The study was also extended to perform additional analysis of improvements for US 231. INDOT’s planned improvements for US 231 will address localized mobility and safety needs along the corridor.
The start of construction will depend on several items, including the completion of the federally-required environmental studies and the availability of funding for the project. The Tier 1 FEIS and ROD are expected in late 2022. These will be followed by more detailed Tier 2 environmental studies if a Build Alternative is selected. There’s no timetable for the start of Tier 2 studies, but each is expected to take about two years to complete. After Tier 2 studies, available funding will determine the start of pre-construction activities and the timing of construction.
Tier 2 environmental studies will define right of way if a Build Alternative is selected. Tier 2 studies won’t begin until after a Tier 1 ROD, which is expected in late 2022. A timetable has not been determined for Tier 2 studies, but each is expected to take about two years to complete. Available funding will then determine next steps. Right-of-way acquisition must comply with the Federal Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Act. The Act ensures fair compensation and assistance for those whose property is acquired for public use. Click here for additional information from INDOT’s Real Estate Division.
Detailed information about right of way and right-of-way acquisition is still multiple years away. Right-of-way acquisition must comply with the Federal Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Act. The Act ensures fair compensation and assistance for those whose property is acquired for public use.
Decisions to make improvements to a property should not be affected by the Mid-States study. Right of way won’t be defined until after Tier 2 studies if a Build Alternative is selected. If a property is acquired for right of way, its purchase price is based on a fair market appraisal during the acquisition process.
Two routes (Routes M and O) pass through the “acquisition boundary” of the HNF. The acquisition boundary represents land which the HNF might acquire if funding is available and the land were available for purchase. It is not clear at this stage of the study whether any property owned by the HNF would be impacted by either Routes M or O. Every effort is being made to avoid impacting land now owned by the HNF.
About 50% of INDOT’s budget is spent preserving existing roads and facilities. The 20-year Next Level Roads plan fully funds INDOT’s asset management plan for existing state-maintained highways, funds projects to improve safety along the state highway system and projects that increase mobility. The Next Level Roads plan enhances Indiana’s economic competitiveness and job creation by improving road conditions, making highways safer, reducing congestion and increasing mobility.
No. Neither the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) nor the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) has ever studied or designated an I-67 project in Indiana. Several years ago, private business interests funded a consultant study for a project they called “I-67.” The previous study is not connected to the Mid-States Corridor Project.
The $75 million in improvements planned for US 231 will address localized mobility and safety needs along the corridor. The planned improvements will be considered by the Mid-States Corridor Project Team in its analysis as part of the federally-required environmental study that is underway.