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A standing room only crowd gathers at the Northeast Indiana Passenger Rail Association "Rally for Rail" in 2009 at the Baker Street Train Station.

$200,000 in Legacy money requested for passenger rail study

Statement as issued Monday by Fort Wayne Councilman Geoff Paddock:

Fort Wayne City Councilman Geoff Paddock (D-5th District) will ask City Council to appropriate $200,000 of the Fort Wayne Community Legacy Fund, as an important step in efforts to bring passenger rail service back to Fort Wayne. The resolution will be introduced at the next City Council meeting on Tuesday, November 12. It is scheduled to be discussed on November 19, and a preliminary vote may be taken that night.

A business plan/feasibility study, released by the Northeast Indiana Passenger Rail Association in late June, presents a model for train service operating between Chicago, Illinois and Columbus, Ohio. The system would consist of ten trains running daily with stops in Fort Wayne and nine other cities, and speeds reaching a maximum of 110 MPH.

"The business plan has been completed and shows a great deal of promise. The next step along this process is to ask each of the cities that would be served to help fund a Tier I Environmental Impact Study," Paddock said. "Some $2 million needs to be raised among the ten cities in Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio. Mayor Tom Henry and I are asking City Council to appropriate just 10% of that. By completing a Tier I Study in 2014 and 2015, we can make this passenger rail route a priority for investment by the Federal Rail Administration," Paddock said.

Paddock said upgraded routes out of Chicago to Detroit, St. Louis, and Milwaukee, are either under construction or in the planning stages. These three routes were established after Tier I Environmental Impact Studies were completed. "If we take this next step, Fort Wayne could be the fourth prioritized route from Chicago," Paddock said. "If we do not take this step, we will miss an opportunity that another city in Illinois or Indiana may take advantage of," Paddock concluded.

Paddock's resolution is R-13-11-02, and is scheduled to be introduced in the Finance Committee of City Council on November 12, with discussion slated for November 19. A request of Legacy Funds requires approval of six City Council members and Mayor Henry. A preliminary vote could be taken as early as November 19.

NORTHEAST INDIANA PASSENGER RAIL ASSOCIATION (NIPRA), PASSENGER RAIL CORRIDOR STUDY, OCTOBER 2013; Geoff Paddock

1. NIPRA conducted a Business Plan/Feasibility Study in 2013 to gauge technical and financial possibility of connecting Fort Wayne to Chicago and Columbus.

2. TEMS (Transportation Economics and Management Systems, Inc.) of Frederick, MD. was contracted to conduct technical, operational, and engineering study of the 300 mile corridor.

3. Midwest Rail Initiative Plan links a number of moderate sized cities to Chicago. Other routes under construction or in planning stages are Chicago to Detroit, Chicago to St. Louis, Chicago to Minneapolis, and Chicago to Des Moines.

4. Substantial work is now under way in Lake County, $71 Gateway Project, Gary Regional Airport, and $3.2 billion in track and crossing improvements are underway from the Illinois border in Chicago to Union Station.

5. TEMS proposes ten trains daily, with maximum speed of 110 MPH, reaching either Chicago or Columbus from Fort Wayne in less than 2 hours. Future service would extend east to Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and the East Coast. Cost of Business Class ticket would be approximately .34/mile.

6. Cost of 300 mile project is $1.1 billion or $3.7/mile; $550 million of it within Indiana. Current projects are funded 80% by federal and 20% state/local/private. From third year of operation, system makes a profit and $40 million by 2030. Cost/benefit ratio is 1.71, meaning for each dollar invested, state gets back $1.71.

7. Project creates 26,800 jobs in three state region over 30 years; adds $7.1 billion in household income over 30 years, and $2.7 billion to property values. Most jobs are projected in educational services, health care, construction of the system, manufacturing, retail, tourism and recreation, professional, insurance and financial, high tech.

8. Project would promote transit oriented development around Baker Street Station and downtown area, creating 500 jobs in five years, and would promote travel and tourism. FWA would benefit from multi-modal connections from integrated downtown train station and transit center.

9. NIPRA and local government partners in 3 states are raising $2 million in 2014 for FRA required TIER I Environmental Impact Study. Next would be TIER II or Preliminary Engineering in 2015 and 2016, with construction in 2017 to 2020.

10. Goal is to have 110 MPH service running by 2020.

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