The Indiana Department of Transportation recently announced the agency finalized a partnership agreement with the recently formed Mid-States corridor Regional Development Authority (RDA) to review the concept of a highway in rural southwest Indiana.
The agreement permits INDOT and the Mid-States RDA to move forward together on a Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Mid-States Corridor. An Environmental Impact Statement is required by the Federal Highway Administration to allow the use of federal transportation funding for major construction projects.
The Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement will examine potential impacts to the natural and human environments along a general corridor beginning at the US 231 interchange with Interstate 64 near Dale, north through Dubois County, near the cities of Jasper and Huntingburg, and connecting with Interstate 69.
The Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement will identify preliminary alternatives for the project, but not an exact route.
Joe McGuinness, Commissioner of the Indiana Department of Transportation says the strength of collaboration between INDOT and partners, both public and private sector, at the local and regional levels on this concept is virtually without precedent.
McGuinness says the economic development potential and quality of life benefits associated with improving the highway infrastructure in this area has been talked about for years and says he’s pleased that by initiating an environmental review they are transforming words into action and exploring the Mid-States Corridor in greater detail.
The partnership model implemented by INDOT and Mid-States RDA was made possible by legislation passed by the Indiana General Assembly in 2017.
Senate Enrolled Act 128 allows Indiana counties and municipalities participating in an RDA to create a fund specifically for regional infrastructure projects.
District 48 State Senator Mark Messmer of Jasper is excited to see the agreement reached between INDOT and the Mid-States RDA.
Messmer says it’s the first regional infrastructure RDA in Indiana and is exactly what he envisioned in 2017 when authoring the legislation with former State Representative Mike Braun.
Messmer says he and Braun envisioned a process that will allow local government to partner with private industry to help advance regional infrastructure projects across the state.
Through this unique partnership, the Mid-States Regional Development Authority will provide $7 million in local funding, a combination of funds committed at the county and municipal levels and through private sector participation to cover costs of the environmental study.
INDOT will add the Mid-States Corridor to its Statewide Transportation Improvement Plan, making the project eligible for federal matching funds. The agencies will work together to prepare a Request for Proposals to secure consultant services, review proposals, select a consulting firm, and review major project findings throughout the study process.
INDOT and Mid-States Regional Development Authority plan to advertise a Request for Proposals for the Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement by the end of 2018 and hope to have a consulting firm under contract in the summer of 2019.