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House panel backs mass-transit funding referendum

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A legislative committee on Wednesday overwhelmingly approved a bill that would let local voters decide whether to fund a $1.3 billion expansion of the mass-transit system in the Indianapolis area.

The Indiana House Roads and Transportation Committee voted 11-1 to support House Bill 1011, introduced by Republican state Rep. Jerry Torr of Carmel.

To fund the Indy Connect plan, a voter referendum is needed to approve a local income tax hike of 0.3 percent in Marion and Hamilton counties.

If it passes, expansion of the transit system would begin in 2015, with completion expected by 2025.

“We are pleased with the bipartisan support from the House committee members who understand the importance of having a world-class transit system in central Indiana,” Ron Gifford, executive director of Indy Connect Now, said in a prepared statement.

The proposed Red Line would run through downtown Indianapolis from Carmel to Greenwood. The Blue Line would run east to west near Washington Street from Cumberland to Indianapolis International Airport. The Green Line, known as the Northeast Corridor, would follow the old Nickel Plate rail line from Indianapolis to Noblesville.

More than 7,800 Hoosiers have signed petitions encouraging lawmakers to allow the referendum, the organization said.

“Today’s overwhelming vote of support is a good first step to developing a modern regional mass transit system,” Mayor Greg Ballard said in a statement. “There are still many other steps in this long process, but today central Indiana is one step closer to making this decades-long dream a reality.”   

Indy Connect earlier this month launched a campaign that includes commercials that are airing on local television and radio stations informing the public about the proposal.

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  • Two Things
    This entire debate must be conducted while keeping two bedrock principles in mind, to wit: (1) We must continue to burn fossil fuels as fast as we can get them out of the ground. There is absolutely no reason to save anything we don't have to for future generations. We owe them nothing. Besides, they'll figure something out; to believe otherwise is to insult their intelligence. (2) Along the same lines, it is imperative that we not take any steps to prepare for days when fossil fuels become very expensive (by which I mean the price paid by the consumer, not all those so-called external so-called costs like pollution). To do otherwise is to doubt the benevolence of the Creator, who will look out for us and those who follow.
  • 30 Minutes Sitting Still
    Based on the map at indyconnect.org, if one were to ride the Red line end-to-end, given all the stops and assuming 1 minute wait per stop and 5 minutes at the transit center downtown, one would spend 30 minutes of the trip not moving at all. If they average 15 mph between all those stops, you're looking at well over 2 hours one way, versus 35 minutes by interstate. That's net 3 hours lost time for a round trip. The Blue line is just as bad, with over two hours one way versus 30 minutes by interstate between Cumberland and the airport. Here's the bottom line...there's already bus service for all or most of the routes being proposed...go ride the bus system for yourself from these end points and see if that's what you think this city needs to spend 1.3 Billion on. Wind, Solar, Bio, EV's...too much money, too little value.
  • Privatize Mass Transit
    If the private sector won't touch it, that's a clue it will not be self-sustaining. And to the person who mentioned "high speed rail", you're way off from what's being proposed. The proposal is SLOW LIGHT RAIL. These trolly cars run on surface street tracks...think of them as super-long-busses on rails. Compared to driving on the interstates, it will take much LONGER to ride than drive. At best it's a tourist attraction. Not to mention these things are diesel powered. Finally the refferendum can show lawmakers an "overwhelming" NO vote on this boondogle. Why couldn't we get referendums on windmills and solar farms? Perhaps squashing those from the get-go woulda saved billions.
  • Split decision
    What happens if Marion County votes in support and Hamilton votes opposed...or vice versa. What happens? Is it a "total" vote combining both counties? How does this work?
  • Why Not More?
    Why aren't Johnson and Hancock Counties included in the tax proposal? Lines should end in Greenfield and Franklin as these areas are growing quickly. Let's not do half a loaf.
  • Do Your Homework before making statements & claims!
    I am a young professional and quite frankly, we deserve the right to Vote for ourselves on this issue, so this is a positive step in the right direction. But before anyone can make a statement positive or negative, you should do your homework on the subject. THIS NEEDS TO MOVE FORWARD!!! Here are apples-to-apples stats on Indy versus some of our top competition for residents/jobs/dollars, etc: (population density/total pop/Transit in place or planned) Indy: 2,300/sq mi, 830K people in City/Marion Co, add 285K in Hamilton Co = Total over 1 Million (These are the focus Counties of Mass Transit in Indy) Total Metro: 1.8Million people. Charlotte: 2,400/sq mi, 751K people in City, Total Metro: 1.8Million people, Highly successful light rail system called LYNX. Nashville: 1,200/sq mi, 626K people in City, Total Metro: 1.6Million people, First light rail line opened in 2006, 7 more lines planned. Austin: 3,200/sq mi, 820K people in City, Total Metro: 1.8Million people, Commuter rail opened in 2010, Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) in place, Streetcar system in the works. Salt Lake City: 1,700/sq mi, 190K in City, Total Metro: 1.2Million people, Mass Transit system ranked #3 in USA, BRT, TRAX 3 Light Rail lines opened 1999, expanding to 7 total, FrontRunner Commuter Rail line. Denver: 4K/sq mi, 620K in City, Total Metro 2.6Million people, Over 1,000 buses with 10K total stops, 5 light rail lines with 36 stations. Portland: 4,400/sq mi, 582K in City, Total Metro: 2.2Million people, MAX light rail system opened in 1986 5 lines, WES commuter rail line, and advanced streetcar system in place. _______ The Total Indy Connect Mass Transit plan won't be complete until 2025 if we start ASAP... I'll be 43 years old by that time... Hamilton county will have doubled in size in this time span, Marion County will be over 900K... we have the population to support the system and then some... BUT No Mass Transit= No More Growth in Indy, PERIOD... Indy goes back to how things were in the 70's... Sleepy State Capital
  • Rail
    Long overdue expansion
  • Don.....
    I think our gang problems pale compared to orgainized crime in other major cities. There are always opportunities for improvement and multiple priorities.
  • reply to CK
    Indianapolis is not Chicago or New York and cities of our size and scope with mass transit as being proposed cannot make the system paying - so how will Indianapolis do it when we already major infrastructure problems and a major concern with gangs in our grand downtown center.
    • Support for transit tax
      More than 7,800 Hoosiers have signed petitions encouraging lawmakers to allow the referendum, the organization said. “Today’s overwhelming vote of support is a good first step to developing a modern regional mass transit system,” Mayor Greg Ballard said in a statement. WOW 7,800 IS OVERWHELMING SUPPORT! I WOULD SAY THAT IS A POOR SHOWING FOR SOMETHING THAT IS SUPPOSEDLY SORELY NEEDED FOR THE WELFARE OF INDIANAPOLIS. I BET THAT IS ALL THE RIDERS THAT CAN BE REGULARLY COUNTED ON THE PROPOSED MONSTER SYSTEM.
    • I am in!
      Right on Tom. I bet people resisted 465 too - but how could we live without it now. This is progress and even though many can not visualize the future benefits - they are there. Just as Chicago, New York and other major cites have found. Can wait for the day I can park and ride from Fishers on a high-speed rail that drops me off right at the airport terminal.
      • All for it
        It's about time. And as for complaints that it's not going to benefit EVERYONE right away the same could have been said for when electricity was first introduced to this town. Maybe we should introduce a referendum for bringing back the horse-drawn carriage too. Given the conservative nature of this state it'd probably stand a better chance.
      • I'm voting no
        Sorry but taxing me to make this happen doesn't work for me. You want me to take public transportation. And the only way to do that is to make it WAY more expensive to drive. Then make it convenient. Get a bus stop at the nearest major intersection to which I can walk (a half mile at most is reasonable) that then takes me to the rail terminal. Don't expect me to have to drive to the rail terminal for the ONLY benefit of riding public transportation is that I get to give up the expense of a 2nd car. Naturally there is NOTHING in the momentum about these rail lines that reflects reality. All this drivel is about wanting, not needing.
      • more frivolous spending
        they can't provide a safe downtown, so what makes them think they could actually provide a safe mass transit. just more ridiculous spending with a weak city infrastructure already, vote these people out

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