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INDOT Rail Planning – Open House 6/2/11

Union Station in DT Indy (image source: Curt Ailes)

Union Station in DT Indy (image source: Curt Ailes)

As part of what appears to be an outreach effort on the part of INDOT, they are planning 3 statewide open houses to gather public input and comment on the development of a statewide rail plan. The outreach at it’s core is serving as their commitment to soliciting feedback from the public on what we think freight and passenger rail should look like in years to come across our state. In 2009, the current rail plan was adopted and had been commissioned 2 years prior. After reviewing input from statewide MPOs and invested stakeholders from private companies, to railroads to even property developers, the current plan was put into place.

In regards to passenger rail, which is really what we concern ourselves with here at Urban Indy, only lip service was paid; Amtrak and South Shore service was defined and some statistics offered. The Midwest HSR Network was touched upon as was commuter rail from Muncie to Bloomington via Indianapolis. No recommendations were offered on how to move forward, nor were any priorities listed in regards to passenger rail.

This is where we get a chance to affect the future.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, input from the public should help to shape a longer term plan by assigning priorities based upon our input and other external factors which will largely be affected by economic development concerns. I have pasted the news release below:

INDIANAPOLIS – The Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) is soliciting public participation and involvement in development of an updated Indiana State Rail Plan.  Surveys are being sent to railroads, businesses and other groups that depend upon rail transportation.  INDOT also wants to hear from rail users and other public stakeholders about their vision for the future of freight and passenger rail in Indiana.

INDOT is hosting three Rail Planning Open Houses between June 1 and June 7 in areas that generate the state’s highest volumes of freight and/or passenger rail traffic.  Brief formal presentations will be given at 4 p.m. and 6 p.m.  The remaining time during the open houses will be informal, and citizens are invited to attend at any time to speak with members of INDOT’s Rail Office one-on-one and fill out a paper survey.  For those unable to attend any of the three open houses across the state, the public is encouraged to fill out the survey using Internet-connected computers and devices at http://indot.IN.gov/3499.htm.

  • 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern Time on Wednesday, June 1, 2011
    INDOT’s Vincennes District Office, 3650 South U.S. Highway 41, Vincennes, Ind.

  • 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern Time on Thursday, June 2, 2011
    INDOT’s Indianapolis Traffic Management Center, 8620 East 21st Street, Indianapolis, Ind.

  • 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Central Time on Tuesday, June 7, 2011
    INDOT’s LaPorte District Office, 315 East Boyd Blvd, LaPorte, Ind.

States applying for rail funding must have an approved State Rail Plan under the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act.  The Indiana State Rail Plan will inventory all rail lines in the state, identify infrastructure issues, analyze the role rail plays within a multimodal environment and discuss public financing issues.  A draft will be available for public review this fall.  The 2009 Indiana Rail Plan is available for review and download at http://indot.IN.gov/3065.htm.

In addition to rail planning and policy development, INDOT administers federal and state rail funding.  Citizens that have questions regarding the three Rail Planning Open Houses or need special assistance should contact Mike McGathey with INDOT’s Rail Office directly at (317) 232-4786; mmcgathey@indot.IN.gov; or 100 N. Senate Avenue, Room ICGN 955, Indianapolis, IN 46204.

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As you can see above, June 2nd is the only opportunity that Indianapolis area residents will get a chance to appear at an open house. However, there is an online survey that can be filled out to express your opinions as well. Don’t worry, it is not multiple choice, you can express your opinion however you deem appropriate. I urge you, our readers, to take this opportunity to show up in person or at the very least, to fill out a form and submit it with your thoughts.

This is a rare chance to give input on intercity passenger rail to INDOT.

8 Responses to “ “INDOT Rail Planning – Open House 6/2/11”

  1. Kevin says:

    It would be great if we could overwhelm INDOT with sheer numbers in support of improved rail. The meeting still isn’t in the best location for non-motorized accessibility, but at least it’s in Indianapolis. I will plan on attending.

  2. Curt Ailes says:

    I’d love to attend. My civic activity support is at an all time high though. I already submitted an online form just to be sure. I put plenty of mention in it about planning for intercity rail, how difficult and narrow it is to use Amtrak in it’s current form and how the state is not giving our cities the opportunity to plan, fund & build rail within city limits.

  3. JP says:

    I submitted my thoughts online. I agree this is our one chance to at least put some (however light) pressure on INDOT. Thanks for getting the word out.

  4. Chris Barnett says:

    Asking questions about rail in the absence of questions about the relative importance of highways, bike-ped ways, and transit is inexcusable.
    .
    A real “planning” exercise would first invite public comment on relative priority of the various parts of an interconnected and interdependent transportation system, then drill down into preferences.
    .
    For instance: it probably makes sense to spend some transportation money moving rails and roads out of the way of the Gary airport expansion, just as happened with the Indy airport. It might make sense to move through freight trains out of downtown Indy, in favor of commuter or light rail corridors. This might require the state or a RTA to buy the Belt Line and trade it to CSX for the inner rail loop. But these things don’t make sense solely viewed through the prism of “rail improvements” alone.

  5. Curt Ailes says:

    You are 100% correct Chris. The process that INDOT uses can only be seen as a veil of secrecy. They are in no way transparent. If you took the opportunity to comment on the LRTP for Indiana last month, then that was the avenue to express your concerns in regards to moving roads and such. You know i agree with you, but I cannot speak for them.
    .
    However, this is just another way to log official input. Perhaps someday, they will listen to our cries for more passenger rail

  6. IndyUrBen says:

    Can’t make it… would be great if someone could tweet updates or maybe provide a summary here as a guest blogger?

  7. Katie says:

    I wish I could come. I will spread the word though.

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