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.
A blue ribbon panel studying Indiana’s future transportation needs laid out this week the state’s top road project priorities. The task now is to figure out how to pay for them.
The panel recommended four priorities for road construction projects – widening I-65 and I-70, building an I-69 Ohio River bridge and creating a commerce connector around Indianapolis. The panel did not include specific funding recommendations, though co-chair Cathy Langham says it does suggest developing some sort of user fee system.
Senate President Pro Tem David Long says it’s unlikely the General Assembly will include any local funding in legislation freeing up transportation dollars.
In last year’s budget, the General Assembly put aside 400 million dollars into a transportation fund to be used for major projects in the future. In response to a request by the governor, proposed legislation this session would release at least some of the money to the executive branch for construction now.