LOOGOOTEE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV)– Loogootee Mayor Noel Harty first recalls hearing about the Mid-State Corridor project eleven years ago.
He said at the time, the project was known as I-67, and he occasionally checked in on meetings.
“I probably wasn’t as diligent in that seven years about attending meetings because I didn’t feel like it always affected us.”
But when the Mid-State Corridor project finalized their most recent proposal, things changed.
The newest proposal would bypass the town of Loogootee, and residents are trying to make their voices heard.
Resident Phil Todd has lived in Loogootee for over 50 years. He said the traffic U.S 231 brings into town is vital for its economy.
“It provides a lot of economic impact for the towns it goes through. Not just local people, but tourists. People going through to buy gas, stop at McDonalds or stop at fast food restaurants,” he said. “The existing 231 has a huge impact on all the communities it goes through.”
Mid-State Corridor released their initial tier one study in April. This outlined their current plans, but those are still subject to change. They held two town halls and have opened other avenues for public feedback, which spokesperson Ed Green said was encouraged.
The time period for public feedback was extended last month from May 31 to June 14.
Harty said local residents organized a letter-writing workshop on Tuesday to help people voice their concerns.
“It’s nice that we can offer that right here in our community,” he said.
Todd said he believes the uncertainty moving forward is a detriment to the community.
“It’s a big disruption,” Todd said. “If you’d want to start a new business, would you do it in Loogootee if they are going to do a bypass around Loogootee and there won’t be the traffic count that we’ve got now? So I don’t know anybody in the town of Loogootee, or in Martin County, that’s for the highway.”
The Federal Highway Administration is expected to reach a Record of Decision on the first proposal in early 2023. After that, a tier II study that typically takes multiple years will begin. Mid-State corridor said current proposals and plans are subject to change throughout that process.