Indiana lawmaker wants light rail ban lifted in 2019

Indiana News

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A state lawmaker said he hopes 2019 is the year light rail begins rolling toward central Indiana.  

Right now, that possibility is actually banned. 

“It’s kind of an outdated, antiquated law that needs to get removed,” Democrat State Rep. Justin Moed of Indianapolis said Monday. 

Moed said he wants certain Indiana counties, including Marion County, to have the option to install a light rail system. That’s why he’s going to present a bill to lawmakers in the 2019 session.

“It strikes from the Indiana code the prohibition from Indianapolis and central Indiana to explore light rail. It doesn’t say the city will do it,” Moed said. “The city would still have to come up with a way to fund it.” 

Moed tried last session, and his bill got pretty far down the tracks before it derailed. The bill passed a House committee and a Senate committee, but never got a Senate floor vote. Earlier this year, Republican State Sen. Mike Delph told us he’d rather see the money go toward fixing Indy’s pot-holed roads.

“I know one of the big opponents, vocal critics of this bill didn’t get re-elected, so hopefully that’ll help us in our chances,” Moed said. 

Moed said he thinks the bill would impact the whole state. He told us he will present the exact same bill that he tried to get passed in the last legislative session.

“It sends a message that local communities should have the right to determine their own future. I think the state shouldn’t get in the way of a community that sees a tool being used as a way to help grow jobs and economic development.” Moed said.

We hit the streets Monday to ask one question: If a light rail system existed in Indianapolis or Indiana, would you use it?

Sidney Suarez said, “I would definitely ride it.” 

Jennifer Cross said she too would use a light rail system in Indianapolis. “More public transportation is good. It’s better for the environment.”

Simone Pervine also agreed. “I’d give it a shot.” 

But, everyone does not feel the same. 

Selina Vazquez told us she would not ride an Indianapolis light rail “because I love driving.” 

Central Indiana has the IndyGo Red Line bus rapid transit project in the works. Construction on that has already started.

We checked in with the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce to get the agency’s thoughts on light rail. Mark Fisher, the chief policy officer, said, “The Indy Chamber supports removal of the ban on light rail to allow for decisions on transit improvements to be made at the local level. While there are no current plans for light rail in the Indianapolis Region, removing this ban will provide the opportunity to plan and respond to future workforce and commuter needs.” 

Fisher referenced the South Shore Line in northern Indiana. “Projects like the double track on the South Shore Line in northern Indiana provide commuters with reliable transit options and increase economic development opportunities along its corridor, opportunities that we’d love to see as part of projects in Central Indiana and other areas of the state.”

Fisher added, “Regardless of the status of light rail, we remain committed to the expansion of IndyGo service and the addition of bus rapid transit to Marion County, an initiative overwhelmingly supported by the voters in the November 2016 general election.”

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