Bill backs project to detail Michigan-Indiana border

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NEW BUFFALO, Mich. (WOOD) — On a map, the 105-mile line separating Michigan and Indiana is distinctly drawn. But in the ground, it may not be as clearly staked.

Ongoing questions may soon have answers.

After delays caused by past budget issues, Senate Bill 627, drafted by Sen. Kim LaSata, R-Bainbridge Township, would help create a commission of surveyors from five Michigan counties to join those from five Indiana counties in actively surveying and pinpointing the boundary’s physical markers.

Tony Hendricks, representing LaPorte County, Indiana, is one of the 10 commission members.

“They document every step along the way — not just each mile (but) every fence line, every tree line, every property corner, every parent corner,” Hendricks said. “We’re not moving the line. We’re just documenting what’s there. Because it was put in 1827 and we cannot move it.”

Once crews determine where the exact line is in the ground, the original 194-year-old oak posts will be replaced by some made of concrete and cast iron.

“As you can imagine, (the oak posts have) disintegrated,” LaSata said. “So the issue is: Where exactly is the border?”

The bill also calls for the commission “to resolve any controversies regarding the location of mileposts defining the Michigan-Indiana state line.” One of them deals with emergencies near the state line, which can be confusing for first responders, prosecutors and judges.

“Those involve traffic accidents, crimes committed in areas of uncertainty,” LaSata explained. “Is it Michigan? Is it Indiana?”

The border wouldn’t be redrawn; the line would simply be refined.

Hendricks says if all goes according to plan — the surveying, the reinstallation of the posts and the encompassing legislation supporting it — everything will be done by 2030, more than 200 years after the original line was drawn.

LaSata said the bill was approved unanimously in the Senate Appropriations Committee. It is expected to be brought up for a vote next week.

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