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 was tooling around in my regular search for things related to light rail and Indianapolis yesterday and discovered that Indyconnect has created a “NE Corridor” specific portion of their wesite. Contained within, is a more detailed exploration of the process, and the documentation required, as it moves forward. Currently, as I have recently reported, there is an Environmental Impact Study (EIS) being conducted on the alignment from Union Station to Noblesville, in the Nickel Plate right of way (ROW). HNTB is the private contractor who is conducting the study.
One of the newest documents on the site, is a draft version of an “Initiation Document”. Contained within, are 32 pages of details that sound a lot like what we have seen over the past decade regarding the NE Corridor. However, also buried in those 32 pages are some somewhat inspiring details.
A lot of talk since Indyconnect’s initial plan, was the absence of streetcar or lightrail that would directly serve North Meridian Street and the Broad Ripple neighborhood, both located north of downtown Indianapolis. Advocates have suggested streetcar or light rail technology on College Ave, Meridian Street, from Fountain Square to Mass Ave to Broad Ripple, or any combination of those. Many of the reasons center on the employment centers located along Meridian Street or the “connecting places ideal” in regards to Fountain Square, Mass Ave and Broad Ripple.
To those of you readers who may have been some of those talking, take note. HNTB, the MPO, etc. have heard the noise. Contained within the Initation Document is the following text (located on page 22 in the Alternatives section):
Recent transit system planning work and Indy Connect public comments suggest that improved transit service on arterial streets near North Meridian Street and North College Avenue could be an attractive strategy for serving the neighborhoods and activity centers on the North Side of Indianapolis. This suggests that the travel markets intended to be served by increased service frequency and closer stops near downtown in the ConNECTions preferred transit alternative and the CITTF recommendation may be better served by BRT or LRT services in these arterial corridors. The detailed alternatives will explore the feasibility of stations in this area, recognizing that complementary (and potentially more service-intensive) transit service might be provided on arterial streets further east. This service could provide an important connection between the Northeast Corridor and other north side activity centers. The design team will coordinate closely with the IndyConnect transit system planning process as this transit service is defined in the MPO Long Range Transportation Plan
While this does not specifically lay down any sort of plans or even suggest that they WILL, it does let us know that they are listening. We also have a bit of time until the NE Corridor EIS findings are available to the public. If I understand the letter of the law, any text regarding other alignments NOT part of the NE Corridor, will likely not be allowed as part of the overall NE Corridor EIS based on how federal funding is handed out.
As for Indyconnect? They will have some more meetings this fall to tighten up the long range transportation plan and my advise if you want to see streetcars or light rail on Meridian, College or other places is keep beating that drum…