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Midwest Regional Rail Initiative
News From MIPRC States
Friday, December 30, 2016
Green signal from FRA for Chicago-Ft. Wayne-Columbus corridor alternatives analysis
Supporters of the proposed Chicago-Fort Wayne, Ind.-Columbus, Ohio passenger rail line have approval from federal and state agencies to take the first procedural step toward establishing the new rail line.
Fort Wayne, Indiana Mayor Tom Henry and members of the
Northern Indiana Passenger Rail Association
, including NIPRA President of the Board Fred Lanahan (who is Gov. Pence’s private sector designee to MIPRC), were joined by mayors and representatives from dozens of communities along the proposed route this month at Fort Wayne’s Baker Street Train Station to announce that an “Alternatives Analysis and Public Input” study – required by the federal National Environmental Policy Act – will begin in January.
The $350,000 study will examine the preliminary engineering, technical analysis, service planning and environmental impacts along the Chicago-Fort Wayne-Lima, Ohio portion of the proposed route. The study, along with the public input process, is expected to be completed by late fall 2017. The FRA, which will be the lead agency, will provide technical assistance throughout the process. The analysis is being paid for with funding from cities and businesses along the corridor.
Once the analysis is complete, engineering and design to upgrade the existing tracks can begin, pending funding. Supporters of this line are optimistic limited service could begin by 2020.
“I’m encouraged by our collective efforts to develop innovative plans to make Fort Wayne a point of destination,” said Mayor Henry. “The approval from the FRA allows us to begin the process of establishing passenger rail service through Fort Wayne, northern Indiana and northwest Ohio. By working together, we’re committed to making a meaningful difference by bringing more transportation options and economic development opportunities to our region.”
MIPRC supports the development of the Chicago-Fort Wayne-Columbus corridor, which would provide connections to several cities in northern Indiana and central Ohio that currently do not have passenger rail service. Initial plans are for trains to travel at a maximum speed of approximately 75 miles per hour and eventually travel at 110 miles per hour. In many communities along the route, scheduled stops would take place at existing historic train stations, such as the Baker Street Train Station in Fort Wayne.
A 2013 rail corridor feasibility study concluded that approximately 2.1 million riders would use the Chicago-Fort Wayne-Columbus route in 2020, with that number growing to more than three million in 2040. The study also estimated that for every $1 of investment, $1.70 would be generated in economic return through job growth and increased property values.
“This is the result of years of hard work and dogged determination on the part of many of us,” said NIPRA spokesperson and Fort Wayne City Councilman Geoff Paddock. “The return of passenger rail to Fort Wayne will be a huge boost for economic development in Fort Wayne and Northeast Indiana. It will add momentum to our booming downtown and help revitalize neighborhoods that surround the train station. It is gratifying that the FRA and INDOT see there is an untapped market for rail service in Fort Wayne. We thank them for working with us over the past few years to reach this moment.”
The Dec. 19 announcement drew widespread media coverage, from Ft. Wayne (
, and in
More information about the Chicago-Fort Wayne-Columbus passenger rail can be found online at
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