The I-69 project is still in the process of completion, but already Daviess County area residents are being encouraged to take a hard look at another major road project that could land in the area. Officials will hold a public meeting Monday at the Washington High School to discuss the proposed Mid-States Corridor Project.

The project calls for the construction of an interstate highway beginning at the Natcher Bridge in Owensboro, Kentucky. It would then run north through the Huntingburg and Jasper areas before heading further north and connecting with I-69.

"This project stands to be transformational for the entire region," said Bryant Niehoff, executive director for the Daviess County Economic Development Corp. "We've seen some of the impact I-69 has had on our region, and this would be additional. Any infrastructure project this large could have a really big impact. People need to show up to this hearing so they can have say in the way development is charted."

Currently there are five preliminary routes under consideration and at least three of those would have a direct impact on Daviess County. One would run from Jasper to Petersburg where it would link up with I-69. Another would have the road running from Jasper, to U.S. 50 and then connect into I-69. The third would run to north from Jasper to Loogootee and further north where it would link in with I-69.

Additional proposed routes include one that goes from Jasper to Loogootee and then to Bedford where it would link up with SR 37 and eventually I-69 near Bloomington. Another route would go from Jasper to French Lick before hooking into SR 37 and then I-69. Finally, the project includes a proposal for what would happen if nothing was built.

Three of those five routes would have a direct impact on Daviess County, but they may not be the only routes the state will consider.

"The road is not limited to these proposals. There are other possible routes that are not listed," said Niehoff. "That's part of why these hearings are being held, so that they can hear from the public and possibly consider other routes. Lochmeuller Group (the company conducting the hearings) doesn't have all of the answers. They will probably consider several additional routes. Eventually all of those ideas will be whittled down to one."

Niehoff says the Daviess County EDC is looking closely at the proposals, but at this point has not decided to endorse any route.

"We feel that overall the project will benefit the region," he said. "Right now we are just staying involved and learning. Later we may hone in and support a proposal that we feel will do the most for Daviess County."

Organizers for the project want it to connect into one of Kentucky's parkways that would be upgraded to interstate status and connect onto I-65 near Bowling Green, Kentucky. The road would then become an alternate route for through traffic on I-65 so that it can avoid the congestion in Louisville.

"That idea of an I-65 alternate is part of the appeal of the project for us," said Niehoff. "This could open new markets for our current businesses and give us another selling point to potential businesses. It could give us a chance to tap new markets."

The meeting in Washington is one of three being held this week in southern Indiana.

"We are just encouraging people to get out to these meetings, learn about the projects, make sure we ask questions and get answers." said Niehoff.

People who cannot make it to the meetings but have an interest in the project can visit the Mid-States Corridor Project Office in the administration building of the Vincennes University Jasper Campus, room 216, at 850 College Ave., in Jasper. The office will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday and by appointment.
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