Inside INdiana Business

Southwest Indiana highway project identifies potential routes

JASPER, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — The team behind a project to create an improved highway connection in southern Indiana has narrowed down potential routes. The Mid-States Corridor project, which would run from the Ohio River at Rockport through the Huntingburg and Jasper area and connect to I-69, has identified 10 preliminary alternatives after a lengthy screening process. The project team now plans to further study the 10 alternatives before narrowing it down to one this fall.

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, project spokesperson Mindy Peterson said the project team considered many factors during the screening process.

“It really is a three-legged stool and that’s looking at impact, cost and performance,” said Peterson. “When you talk about performance, we want to know how do those alternatives stack up against one another when you’re talking about the goals of this project. We’re talking about increased accessibility to major business markets. We’re talking about more efficient travel for trucks and freight in southern Indiana. We’re talking about reducing crashes in southern Indiana and also that increased access to both rail and air.”

Peterson says when it comes to impact, the project team looked at the environmental, residential and business impact, among others, for each preliminary alternative. The team also looked at the potential construction cost for each alternative, which will continue to be refined as the process moves along.

A series of public meetings will take place next week to gather public input. Peterson says feedback from residents and businesses is crucial to the process.

“What we are working toward is identifying a single preferred corridor by this fall so the feedback that we get right now from both the public and various agencies will help inform that decision,” said Peterson.

Each meeting will run from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. with an open house format and presentations from members of the project team. The meetings will take place at the following dates and locations:

  • Tuesday, Feb. 18: Loogootee High School – 201 Brooks Ave., Loogootee, Ind.
  • Wednesday, Feb. 19: Bedford Middle School – 1501 N St., Bedford, Ind.
  • Thursday, Feb. 20: Jasper Middle School – 3600 N. Portersville Rd., Jasper, Ind.

In addition to the meetings, the project team has posted a screening report questionnaire online for those who want to submit their opinion on the preliminary alternatives. The questionnaire will be available through March 23.

Peterson says a single preferred corridor will be named this fall when the Draft Environmental Impact Statement is expected to be published. 

“That’s going to be a major milestone for the project. We’ll have public hearings at that time. Hearings are a little bit different from meetings. Folks will have the chance to sign up and they will actually be able to deliver both oral or written comments, whatever they prefer, at that meeting. All of those comments will be considered by the project team and then the project team continues its work to refine that corridor and reach what’s called a Final Environmental Impact Statement and then a Record of Decision from (the) Federal Highway (Administration).”

The ROD is expected to come in the summer of 2021.

You can learn more about the Mid-States Corridor project by clicking here.

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Boyfriend of British TV presenter heartbroken by her death

LONDON (AP) — The boyfriend of Caroline Flack, the former British TV host for the controversial reality show “Love Island,” said Sunday that his “heart is broken” at her death as criticism mounted over her treatment by some British media.

British commercial television network ITV said it would not air Sunday’s edition of the show but that it would return on Monday with a tribute to its former host.

Flack, 40, was found dead Saturday at her home in east London after taking her own life, according to a family lawyer. Flack hosted “Love Island” from its launch in 2015 before stepping down in December after being charged with assaulting her 27-year-old boyfriend, Lewis Burton.

Flack denied the charge and was to stand trial next month. She was also not allowed to have any contact with Burton, a bail restriction he objected to. Burton also did not want Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service to go ahead with the trial.

Over the past few months, Flack had been the focus of several negative articles and was trolled across social media for the assault charge. On Sunday, the story of her suicide dominated the front pages of British newspapers.

Beside a picture of them together, Burton said on Instagram that he was in “so much pain.”

He added: “I promise I will ask all the questions you wanted and I will get all the answers nothing will bring you back but I will try make you proud everyday.”

The sixth season of “Love Island” is currently airing and ITV said in a statement that it will not broadcast Sunday’s edition of the show. On Saturday, the commercial network did not air a package of unseen footage from the previous week.

“After careful consultation between Caroline’s representatives and the ‘Love Island’ production team, and given how close we still are to the news of Caroline’s tragic death, we have decided not to broadcast tonight’s ‘Love Island’ out of respect for Caroline’s family,” ITV said in a statement.

ITV said the show will return on Monday and that it will include “a tribute to Caroline who will be forever in our hearts.”

“Love Island” puts young, attractive contestants in a tropical paradise, where they must pair up or risk being exiled. Critics claim the program places vulnerable young people under intense scrutiny and pressure, which is magnified by blanket coverage of the show by tabloids and TV talk shows. Two former “Love Island” contestants, Sophie Gradon and Mike Thalassitis, died by suicide in 2018 and 2019.

Until her arrest, Flack had enjoyed a meteoric career rise after co-hosting Saturday morning children’s television shows. She also hosted companion shows to the popular ITV programs “I’m A Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here!” and “The X Factor.”

Flack’s career blossomed further after she won the BBC show “Strictly Come Dancing” in 2014, the British version of “Dancing With The Stars.” While hosting “Love Island,” Flack made her West End stage debut in 2018, playing Roxie Hart in the musical “Chicago.”

Her death led to a flood of tributes from fellow TV hosts and criticism of her treatment by the media. The Sun tabloid, for example, removed negative online articles about her soon after her death was announced.

Talent agent Jonathan Shalit told BBC radio that Flack received “more negative press than a terrorist or a paedophile” over the trial.

“These people might be famous, but they’re still vulnerable individuals,” Shalit said.

By Sunday evening, an online petition calling for a government inquiry into “the practices and policies of mainstream media organisations and social media platforms in their efforts to protect members of the public from harm” had garnered more than 191,000 signatures.

The Crown Prosecution Service has also come under criticism for pushing ahead with the trial in the face of Burton’s opposition, particularly from Flack’s management’s company.

“The CPS should look at themselves today and how they pursued a show trial that was not only without merit but not in the public interest,” said Francis Ridley of Money Talent Management. “And ultimately resulted in significant distress to Caroline.”

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