“High speed rail is a part of the future and must be included in Indiana's transportation mix” says Dennis Hodges of the Indiana High Speed Rail Association.
Back in April, Indiana Governor Daniels, along with seven other Midwest governors and Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, signed a letter written to Secretary of Transportation, Ray LaHood.
“We are here today to applaud Governor Daniels for taking this step and encourage him to make a pre-application on July 10th”says Rick Harnish of the Midwest High Speed Rail Association.
That letter emphasizing the goal of the Midwest Regional Rail Intiatative: to significantly improve the level and quality of passenger rail here in Indiana.
“The Midwest is losing competitiveness in a global marketplace because we don't have trains” notes Harnish.
New rail lines would produce many benefits. Besides cutting travel times down by a third on some routes, they would also help with environmental issues. Trains are still seven times as efficient as driving.
Fort Wayne would also see an increase in property value. It's estimated that new train operations would increase the value of Fort Wayne up to as much as 38 million dollars.
And in addition, new rail lines would also create many new jobs and even may help the struggling auto industry.
“This is a potential to repurpose some of your auto manufacturers here into making rail cars and other railroad supplies” says Harnish.
The next step then for the Midwest Rail Initiative is to pre-apply for the stimulus funds. That deadline for pre-applications is July 10th. The final deadline is August 24th. The Federal Railroad Administration says it plans to release the first round of grants by Mid-September.