Letter: Funding and planning point to long-term goals leading to the Mid-State Corridor

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Recently, Democratic candidates have started asking all the wrong questions to make it seem like Republican candidates running for office have everything to do with the Mid-States Corridor. Here are some facts you might consider when voting for a candidate for office in Indiana.

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) began planning in 2004 to upgrade US 231 through Huntingburg and Jasper. In 2010, the FHWA published a notice of intent in the Federal Register, “US 231 Due to the importance of the route, US 231 is included in the National Highway System (NHS). The NHS includes all interstate highways, a large percentage of roads classified as major highways, and roads important to national defense.The NHS comprises 5% of the national road network, but serves approximately 40% of road travel nationwide.US 231 makes also part of the National Truck Network, a nationwide network of highways that allows the passage of trucks of specified minimum sizes and weights.Designated as a Regional Mobility Corridor and Trade Corridor, US 231 serves as a connection to smaller cities and regions , feeds traffic to major mobility corridors and provides regional accessibility.As a trade corridor, US 231 directly facilitates intrastate, interstate, or international trade or travel. approximately 12 miles of existing US 231 through Dubois County are 2-lane rural roads. The causeway becomes 3 or 4 lanes through Huntingburg and Jasper and is a north-south thoroughfare dividing the two communities. Traffic in Huntingburg is affected by delays at a railroad crossing. In Jasper, US 231 makes two right-angle turns, both of which have substandard turn radii and are difficult for large vehicles to negotiate. In March 2004, the FHWA published US 231 Draft EIS. FHWA and INDOT continued to assess the project and developed additional alternatives for consideration and a final EIA was not released within three years of the release of the draft EIA. The SDEIS will reevaluate the preferred alternative identified in US 231 DEIS of 2004 and compare these impacts to the additional construction alternatives. You can read the full report here https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2010-06-02/pdf/2010-13103.pdf note that the report is not on the government website State of Indiana or Dubois County website, but a federal government website, the United States Federal Register.

Indiana funds its roads primarily from three sources.

Federal government money – One-third of INDOT’s budget comes from the federal government each year. The federal government pays INDOT to maintain federal highways and freeways in each state. On August 10, 2021, the Senate passed and approved the INVEST In America Act, a bill HR 3684 which allocates $1 trillion in infrastructure spending. The president signed it into law. No Republican in the Indiana Congress voted in favor of the bill. Indiana is getting $8.8 billion of that $1 trillion package. Governor Eric Holcomb and former INDOT Commission Joe McGuinness were excited about the funding.

Gasoline and Diesel Tax per Gallon – Most state funding for INDOT comes from the 24 cents per gallon for diesel fuel and 18 cents for gasoline.

Local Tax Dollars – INDOT has a program, the Local Public Agencies Program, LPA, to assist local municipalities by matching local tax dollars with INDOT funding to help keep local roads up to date in each county.

So who determines which roads are built? Since one-third of INDOT’s annual budget comes from the federal government, INDOT, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) review the entire transportation improvement program at the Indiana Statewide (STIP) and federal planning conclusion as required. under 23 CFR 450.220(b).

How do INDOT and FHWA determine which roads should be built? A comprehensive review based on security and traffic figures. Dubois County has seen its population grow nearly 40% since 1970. So the real deciders on which highways are built are the traffic numbers posted by local and passing drivers. Dubois County has grown to the point where federal highway standards require wider roads with more lanes and more shoulders. Complying with federal highway standards meant deciding what was the best possible way to achieve compliance. The document below details the US 231 corridor in 2010, long before Mark Messmer and Shane Lindauer took office. Even if they were in power, they could not have voted to approve the corridor. INDOT and FHWA decide which roads will be built.

“Corridor 212: US 231 – Huntingburg/Jasper Bypass This project was originally scheduled for a 2018 completion date and is still on track as planned. The environmental document is maintained by Butler, Fairmen & Seufert Inc. The Indiana Regional Commission 15 has raised concerns about drainage issues and the potential for increased traffic on US 231 with the completion of the Natcher Bridge project.The Planning Section will escalate concerns to the Chief of project. “

It seems that some candidates are worried about the Regional Development Authorities (RDAs). Currently, 42 states have RDAs, including liberal states like California and New York. Indiana’s RDA bill passed with strong bipartisan support. Indiana Regional Development Authorities are counties banding together to reduce costs in order to attract new business and encourage entrepreneurs to develop great new businesses. Don’t be fooled by partisan politics, RDAs are about states competing to land the companies of the future.

Running a state requires tax revenue. Things don’t get any cheaper. Remember that at election time, it was the Democrats who got us into this mess, not the Republicans. So don’t be mad at Indiana Republicans, they voted “no” to Joe Biden’s infrastructure bill. Democrats are the ones who passed the funding to complete the US 231 Mid-States corridor in 2021.

https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/house-bill/3684

Daryl Hensley, Jasper

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