Passenger Rail On Track For Environmental Study (VIDEO)

By Rachel Martin - 21Alive

December 11, 2013 Updated Dec 11, 2013 at 12:29 AM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (21Alive) – The idea of high speed passenger rail is chugging further down the track as Fort Wayne City Council unanimously passed a resolution to fund an environmental impact study for the project.

Now City Council will recommend the Henry Administration take $200,000 from the County Economic Development Income Tax (CEDIT) fund for a Tier I environmental impact study.

In the original proposal from Councilman Geoff Paddock (D – 5th District) the $200,000 would be taken from Legacy Fund. However, many council members didn’t favor the idea. Tuesday night, the proposal had been redrafted and Councilman Russ Jehl (R – 2nd District) teamed up with Paddock to help raise private funds to contribute to the cost of the study.

Fort Wayne is one of 10 cities included in the high speed rail route from Columbus, Ohio to Chicago.

Members of the Northeast Indiana Passenger Rail Association (NIPRA) say the study will cost $2 million between Indiana, Illinois, and Ohio. But Paddock, who is also a member of NIPRA, says the City of Fort Wayne will only have to account for the $200,000, which is 10 percent of the cost.

NIPRA members say the study is required in order to receive federal funding. Paddock says with Tuesday night’s vote, the passenger rail project is now on track.

"That sends a very strong signal, not only to the other cities along the route that will be coming forward now with their funding, but I think this sends a strong message to the Governor, to the Department of Transportation, and the Federal Railroad Administration, that this is a bipartisan effort that people strongly support in Fort Wayne,” said Paddock.

Within the next week or so, City Council will await a proposal from Mayor Tom Henry’s office appropriating the money from CEDIT funds, and NIPRA members say they’ll expect funding packages from other cities by the beginning of 2014.

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