Letter: Mid-States Corridor proponents’ comments full of irony

I attended the Mid States Corridor hearing on April 28 at the Jasper Arts Center.  I was struck by the irony in the public comments made by the corridor’s proponents.

Rockport Councilman Darrell Wilson spoke first supporting the Mid-States Corridor in order to bring desperately-needed business to Rockport. The 4-lane U.S. 231 through Spencer County from the Ohio River to I-64 opened to traffic in 2011. Rockport is dying BECAUSE the new US 231 bypassed them, as well as Chrisney and Dale. Changing US 231 from I-64 north through Dubois County will do nothing to help Rockport. The 4-lane U.S. 231 caused Rockport’s demise, and will probably cause the demise of Huntingburg, Jasper and Ferdinand. 

Ferman Yearby, another public official from Spencer County, spoke next that the highway was a dream that William J. Koch, founder of Holiday World, started working towards over 40 years ago. I found that ironic because Holiday World doesn’t even direct their customers to use the 4-lane U.S. 231 from I-64 south to Santa Claus.  Each summer, Holiday World places electronic signs along both eastbound and westbound I-64 instructing Holiday World traffic to use I-64 Exit 63, the Ferdinand exit which connects to State Road 162, and not the 4-lane US 231 that Mr. Koch worked so hard for. Ironic. 

Jasper Mayor Dean Vonderheide spoke in favor of the corridor, citing the many accidents along Hwy 231 within the Jasper city limits. Those accidents are almost exclusively fender-benders, while the many accidents along the 4-lane U.S. 231 in Spencer County involve fatalities. (Google “fatalities along US 231 Spencer County”.)  I would much rather be involved in a fender-bender than a fatality, wouldn’t you? 

Doug Bawel, CEO of Jasper Engines, asserted that his company will not benefit from the new corridor, their trucks use SR 162 and I-64 to then ship out of their Crawford County facility. He said he supported the new corridor because of safety. The irony there is that the new corridor will cross heavily-traveled State Roads 64, 162, 164, 56 and the Schnellville Road. Other county roads will be cut off, forcing even more drivers onto those state roads. With no overpasses and no stoplights at intersections, and with traffic traveling 60-70 mph (regardless of posted speed limits) it will be very dangerous for at-grade intersections and any planned insane J-turns. Traffic congestion? Just wait till this project puts ALL the heavily-traveled roads in Dubois County together at dangerous intersections, especially during commutes to and from work, causing backups, delays and fatalities. That includes delays for Jasper Engine trucks and vehicles using SR 162 to get to I-64.  Ironic. 

Ed Cole of Dubois Strong spoke of the “projected” economic development to be brought by the new corridor. In eleven years along the 4-lane U.S. 231 in Spencer County, the only development was a Dollar General Store at the ridiculous J-turn intersection at SR 70. Hardly the projected millions in economic impact. Ironic. 

And a heartbreaking irony — Gary Hochgesang spoke against the corridor because it will destroy the farm that has been in his family for generations. The State of Indiana recognized the Hochgesang family farm’s 112 years with a Hoosier Homestead Award on April 1st, just a few weeks before the corridor public hearing on April 28th. INDOT now wants to obliterate that family farm. Ironic. 

Take a drive along the 4-lane US 231 from I-64 south to the Ohio River. See the lack of development, see the many county roads that now dead-end.  Talk to folks who only had to drive a half-mile on back roads to visit family or to get to their farmland and now have to drive miles out of their way because the local road was cut off. See the narrow, now-useless strips of land between the 4-lane US 231 and the original US 231 that parallels it.  Drive into Rockport and see the boarded-up businesses and buildings.  See what the MidStates Corridor will bring to Dubois County.  No vague studies are needed, the proven 11-year history of an upgraded US 231 is right there. See it.   

Learn from the 11-year history of the existing 4-lane US 231. It will NOT be an economic boon, it will NOT be safer. It will cause endless frustration for Dubois Countians every day, for what? To save someone, somewhere, 2 to 5 minutes to get to Indy?  STOP the Mid States Corridor! 

Sue Krampe, Ferdinand