An approximately $200 million extension of State Road 101 was announced Friday by Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb to provide a direct route for Switzerland, Dearborn and Ohio counties to both I-71 and I-74 and offer a new cross-river route for freight traffic through southeastern Indiana.
The State Road 101 extension was announced along with two other southern Indiana projects, bringing a total commitment of $475 million in funding for new roadways, to improve connectivity of the highway and interstates that support business and industry through interstate commerce.
The announcement stated that the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) will begin development of a 25-mile extension to State Road 101 with the existing portion of U.S. 50 near Milan and at the Ohio River crossing via Markland Dam near Vevay, which is just miles from I-71 in northern Kentucky.
The announcement did not include a projected start date except that initial planning for the project will begin within the next year.
Switzerland County Commissioner Jamie Peters said, “We’re definitely excited. It provides opportunities we haven’t had in the past of access and connection, and it provides growth potential for industry. There’s no guarantee, but we’re hoping for and would like to see those things.”
“The State Road 101 announcement was a bit of a surprise to the council,” said Lance Collier, president of the Switzerland County Council. “We knew back in the summer/fall of 2019 that our commissioners were working with officials from INDOT, as were other affected counties, to figure out a way forward for the road extension project. To my knowledge, those groups were not able to reach an agreement. There were concerns over the requirement of the county taking on the financial responsibility of maintaining some of the state roads in our county. We hadn’t heard any updates since that time. We haven’t heard all of the details yet on how this will unfold. I don’t believe INDOT has specified an official route and there’s no mention of us taking responsibility for existing highways.”
Peters explained there were, indeed, discussions two years ago in which the state was proposing that Switzerland County take over control of State Road 250 and State Road 156 in the county. Peters noted that discussions at that time were that Switzerland County might agree to that, but that the county would need financial help. Ultimately, Peters said nothing came of that requirement and he is not aware of any such requirement with the project announced Friday, which is even better news for the county.
“Indiana’s location and extensive transportation network make our state one of the most attractive places in the country to do business and create jobs,” Holcomb said. “These projects will better connect our communities, enhance commerce within and beyond our borders and deliver value for Hoosiers for generations to come.”
The state will invest $75 million for design and construction of added travel lanes, passing lanes and intersection improvements at strategic locations on U.S. 231. The improvements will significantly reduce congestion in the Jasper and Huntingburg areas and improve safety and mobility throughout the approximately 48-mile corridor from I-64 near Dale to I-69 near Crane. Construction is anticipated to begin by late 2022.
Indiana and Kentucky have been working together since 2016 to develop the I-69 Ohio River Crossing near Evansville. Indiana will now invest $200 for INDOT to begin designing the Indiana approach to the Ohio River, which includes an interchange with the existing I-69 and Veterans Memorial Parkway and an approximately 1.5 mile new-terrain portion of I-69 approaching the Ohio River.
INDOT and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet will continue to partner on development of the bridge portion of the project as both states design and build respective approach portions of the project. Once fully connected, I-69 will be a continuous interstate from the U.S.-Canada border near Port Huron, Michigan to the Kentucky-Tennessee state line.
“Modern, safe, reliable transportation infrastructure is a ‘must have’ to compete for talent, growth and job creation in today’s economy,” INDOT Commissioner Joe McGuinness said. “With Indiana’s commitment to taking care of our existing roads and bridges and our investment in major projects, our state is delivering a transportation system that plays a major role in creating one of the nation’s best business climates.”
The COVID-19 death toll in Jefferson County increased to 85 over the weekend, up one compared to last week, as the number of new positive cases continues to remain low and/or decline.
In Jefferson County, 13,361 residents are now fully vaccinated and 13,143 have received at least the first of a two-dose series. Jefferson County has had a total of 3,356 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 but the county’s current seven-day average positivity rate is 2.5% while the seven-day positivity for unique individuals is 7.8%.
Jefferson County’s metric level remains in the “Blue” category representing “low community spread.”
Switzerland County has 2,370 residents fully vaccinated with 2,329 receiving the first of a two-dose series. Switzerland County has had a total of 809 positive cases during the pandemic with eight total deaths. The county’s current seven-day average positivity rate is 1.3% and the seven-day positivity for unique individuals is 5.9%. Switzerland County’s metric level is “Yellow” for moderate community spread.
In Indiana, 2,672,891 have been fully vaccinated with 2,725,849 receiving the first of a two-dose series. The Indiana Department of Health announced Friday that 140 additional Hoosiers have been diagnosed with COVID-19, bringing the total to 749,532 the number of Indiana residents now known to have had the novel coronavirus. To date, 13,326 Hoosiers are confirmed to have died from COVID-19, an increase of two from the previous day.
In Carroll County, Kentucky, there have been a total of 21 deaths attributed to the pandemic. There have been 1,033 cases of COVID-19 in Carroll County during the pandemic. The incidence rate in Carroll County is at “Yellow” with 2.7% for community spread.
In information from the North Central District Health Department, Trimble County has reported 732 cases of COVID-19 with four active cases and overall seven deaths during the pandemic. The incidence rate in Trimble County is now at “Yellow” at 3.4% for community spread.
On June 13, the Kentucky Department of Public Health reported 88 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the overall total during the pandemic to 462,303 positive cases overall. The total known deaths from COVID-19 in Kentucky is now 7,158 deaths, an increase of three from the previous day. On Monday, 2,147,892 people have received at least their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine in Kentucky with 1,823,894 fully vaccinated.
COVID vaccines are continuing to be administered Monday through Friday at the Jefferson County Health Department for those 12 years of age and older. Appointments can be scheduled by visiting www.ourshot.in.gov or by calling 211. Walk-ins are welcome Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from 2 p.m.-5 p.m., and Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Everyone 12 years of age and older is eligible. An adult must accompany a child 12 to 15 to the appointment; parental consent is required for minors.
Switzerland County Health Department is operating a vaccine clinic at the Switzerland County Technology and Education Center, 708 West Seminary Street, Vevay.
Kentuckians should visit vaccinemap.ky.gov to find a COVID-19 vaccination site near them.
A severed fiber optic cable caused an outage that impacted internet, phone and some cable TV services across Indiana, Kentucky and a few other states on Saturday including MetroNet and Verizon locally.
No estimate was available on now many customers were impacted by the outage.
Verizon released a statement to news sources on Saturday noting: “Earlier today, our primary fiber vendor experienced two separate fiber cuts to their primary and backup network that disrupted service to some of our cell sites.”
MetroNet posted a similar message attributing the outage to a severed optical cable. The outage began Saturday morning and service was restored after 9 p.m. that evening.
“Everything should be up now. We’re sorry for the interruption. We understand that this was bad time, especially on the weekend. We appreciate your patience as we worked through the situation.”
Susie Lawrence, Jefferson County 911 Executive Director, said the communication disruption impacted the county’s Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) in which detailed information is cataloged for all calls.
“We went to the old form of paper,” she said, and then entered them all once the system was back up, which she said was around 10 p.m. on Saturday.
Lawrence said local 911 calls were not impacted because they are managed by another system. However, all other regular calls were affected and dispatchers used personal cell phones to communicate with other counties despite having sporadic issues with Verizon cell service on Saturday.
Lawrence praised the dispatchers who worked Saturday for making the best out of a difficult situation.
“They did a fine job” and were able to respond to every call, she said.
“No one was left out in the cold,” she added, noting they still were able to connect with officers through regular two-way radio communication.