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.
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.
I met my wife in late 2006. We got to know each other quicky and before long, I had asked her to marry me. I met a woman who likes to travel. A LOT! So when it came to planning our wedding, travel was incorporated. Sure, people travel for their honeymoon, but for their wedding?
Our best laid plan eventually landed us in Italy where we were married in June of 2008 in the Tuscany region just south of Firenze (Florence). At that time, I was not as psychotic about sustainable transportation as I am today, however, I was still smart enough to know that driving in Europe is expensive, difficult and at times, scary. My short experience with driving there, netted me a ticket for driving down one block worth of pedestrian zone in Firenze to the tune of 90 euros. It was also the only time we rented a car while we were there. In hindsight, we probably didn’t need to either.
The rest of our trip was spent riding the Italian version of HSR, TrenItalia. We landed in Rome, took the short skip from the airport into the city and hopped a high speed train for Venice. That afternoon, we arrived in Venice. We spent a weekend there, and then travelled back south to Firenze, again by TrenItalia. We spent a week there seeing the cultural spots and exploring further out from the city center on foot where the locals are more numerous and the tourists aren’t which, by the way, also comes with a proportional drop in the price of goods being sold. As far as urbanism goes, Firenze was a fantastic place to visit. Dense development everywhere, and walkable streets. Of course, it’s a tourist town and the center of a historical arts movement so not to be compared to a place like Indianapolis. But still a pleasure to experience and take lessons from.
The last part of our trip took us to southern Italy and the Amalfi Coast, a beautiful stretch of Mediterranean coastal towns. We spent 4 days there and also travelled the majority of the route there by HSR to Salerno where we hopped a coastal bus to our final destination. We flew back out of Rome after travelling there by intercity rail which was not quite as fast, but cheaper and absolutely PACKED with more regional citizens.
It was a fantastic experience. The train rides were comfortable. We got to see lots of the country side and I got to avoid more traffic tickets by avoiding the pedestrian zones. After watching Obama’s State of the Union address last night, and listening to his rhetoric regarding his HSR vision for America, I thought it only fitting to describe my experience with HSR; one I would call a pleasurable one. If you’d like a more technical overview of the Italian HSR network, click here for the wikipedia page.