What is the Mid-States Corridor Project?
The Mid-States Corridor Project examines the concept of an improved highway connection in southern Indiana. The Mid-States Corridor is anticipated to 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.
What is happening now?
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.
Why is this study necessary?
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.
What does the study and NEPA process include?
The NEPA process includes:
- Analysis and comparison of the benefits, impacts and costs of a range or reasonable options 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 options to meet both including improvements to and use of existing facilities and construction of new roadway facilities
- Analysis of a no-build alternative to serve as a baseline for comparison
- 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).
What is a Tier 1 Environmental Study?
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.
What is the Project Study Area?
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.
What is the project’s proposed Purpose and Need?
The proposed purpose and need for the Mid-States Corridor project is to provide an improved transportation link between 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.
Why is the Mid-States Corridor being examined as improved connectivity for the area?
This is a large area and there have been multiple studies (four in the past five years) 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.
Is the Mid-States Corridor Project a continuation of the I-67 project?
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.
How can the public and other stakeholders get involved during the environmental process?
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 will be held at key project milestones and a set of public hearings will follow publication of the DEIS, along with 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 here on the project website (www.midstatescorridor.com) and will be shared on social media channels:
Comments can also be shared by email, email@example.com.
How long is the study expected to take?
The Project Team has an aggressive, but realistic, schedule. Its accelerated timeline covers just over two years, with the ROD expected in summer 2021.
What are next steps in the project?
After the FHWA issues the ROD, the Tier 2 studies can begin. The Tier 1 EIS will specify the sections for Tier 2 studies. Those studies will include more detailed analyses, and the focus will shift to a more exact determination of impacts and the avoidance and mitigation of adverse impacts. Specific alignments will be determined in Tier 2 studies.