An advocacy group representing the French Lick resort has begun a campaign urging state planners to send the proposed Mid-States Corridor through its region. The push comes as three public hearings are set for this week, allowing residents to learn more about the planned highway through southwest Indiana.
The Mid-States Regional Development Authority last week announced 10 alternatives with five possible routes.
The French Lick Parkway Coalition, an advocacy group representing the Bloomington-based Cook Group Inc., the French Lick Springs Hotel and West Baden Spring Hotel, supports what is now known as Route O.
Formerly called Route 3F, it would travel northeast to the French Lick area, then travel north through Bedford and eventually connect to Interstate 69 in Bloomington.
“The number one thing we hear, and it doesn’t matter if you’re coming from the south or the north is, it’s hard to get to,” said Chuck Franz, vice president of the Cook Group.
The group commissioned Ginovus LLC and Indiana University Public Policy Institute to conduct an economic impact analysis of its preferred route. (click here to view the full report)
According to the Cook Group, the study indicates the path would lead to the creation of 500-700 new jobs in Lawrence and Orange counties during and after the construction of the corridor.
Franz says Route O is essential to bring a required workforce to the communities in the 85 mile stretch from Bloomington to Jasper.
“Where are they going to be able to recruit from a workforce standpoint,” questioned Franz. “The corridor opens that up, for more freedom of movement, more housing additions along the route that benefits both ends of the route.”
A decision on what kind of road will be built has not been decided. The 10 alternatives include a variety of configurations: an interstate, a limited-access highway or a widened two-lane road, which would include a passing/auxiliary lane.
The improved highway would stretch from Rockport at the Ohio River, north along the existing U.S. 231 to somewhere along Interstate 69.
If Route O is not selected this time, Franz thinks the state will eventually make that investment even if it’s two decades down the road.
“If we do our job down here at the resort, we’re still going to be attracting more visitors,” said Franz. “Do you want to spend the money twice? Folks are still going to be considering how do we connect this area to Indianapolis to Bloomington? We just think it’s the best route with the most economic impact.”
The meetings are scheduled 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. ET and will feature an open house format. A presentation is planned for 6 p.m. each night.
- Tuesday, Feb. 18: Loogootee High School
- Wednesday, Feb. 19: Bedford Middle School
- Thursday, Feb. 20: Jasper Middle School
A Record of Decision is expected in summer 2021. The ROD is the Federal Highway Administration’s final approval of the preferred corridor.
In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Cook Group Vice President Chuck Franz said a highway route through French Lick would pay off.