State Support of Hoosier Rail Line Unclear
Governor Mike Pence is noncommittal on whether Indiana will support the future of the Hoosier State Passenger Rail Line with state dollars, instead shifting responsibility to local communities along the line that runs between Chicago and Indianapolis.
Federal funding for the Hoosier State Rail Line was cut off last year. The state and local communities along the line reached a temporary funding agreement that keeps the route running through October. But Indianapolis has announced it will no longer contribute funds.
Crawfordsville Mayor Todd Barton says even if the legislature approves new money in the budget it will create next session, there will be a gap in time when the line will have to shut down, unless the state steps up.
Governor Pence says the state will operate in good faith.
“But it’s going to take an ongoing partnership with all of the communities along the line to be able to do that and I think the communities that stand to benefit from the Hoosier Rail Line should participate in supporting that line,” Pence said.
Barton doesn’t disagree, saying it’s difficult for the communities currently helping fund the line to provide more dollars when some aren’t chipping in at all.
“We have the city of Beech Grove not really participating and they’re not on the route, but they benefit with all the jobs,” Barton said. “And unfortunately we have the city of Dyer not participating and still have a stop. So that makes it tough for us to sell it at home.”
The state is replacing Amtrak, which currently runs the line, with a private management company who’s expected to help improve the line and make it more cost-effective.
Barton says that will help encourage local communities to invest, but without the state and Indianapolis, he thinks the line will likely die.