IBJOpinion

EDITORIAL: Interstate network isn't enough

 IBJ Staff
May 14, 2011
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IBJ Editorial

Indiana’s interstate highway network is something to behold. Interstates 70, 74 and 65 crisscross the state. Interstate 69 will join them once it’s extended from here to Evansville. And when the Hoosier Heartland Highway Corridor is finished between Fort Wayne and Lafayette and U.S. 31 is upgraded to interstate standards from here to South Bend, you won’t be able to go far in Indiana without going over, under or onto an interstate highway.

Perhaps the fact we’re so thoroughly outfitted with roads explains the reluctance of Hoosier lawmakers and transportation planners to get serious about alternative modes of transportation. But get serious they must. Our country’s transportation future is too uncertain for Hoosiers to be almost entirely car-dependent.

That didn’t stop some legislators from trying to take us backward in the session just ended. Public transit advocates had to fight off an effort to sharply reduce transit funding in the new state budget. Advocates ultimately preserved funding at around $42 million a year, but legislators did away with the formula that’s been used to fill the coffers of the Public Mass Transit Fund, which distributes money to IndyGo and other transit providers around the state. Instead, the budget calls for a lump-sum payment to the fund, leaving transit advocates to wonder if they’ll be starting from scratch when it comes time to write the next state budget.

They’re also left to wonder what meaning to attach to two transportation studies that were approved by the Legislature.

Lawmakers who wanted to reduce funding for transit instead won authorization to have the Commission on State Tax and Finance Policy study this summer what role the state should play in public transit funding. Is the suggestion that perhaps the state should play no role?

Another measure, House Bill 1371, creates the Joint Study Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Assessments and Solutions to spend two years taking a comprehensive look at the state’s transportation infrastructure and funding needs through 2035.

An optimist might view that study as an opportunity for the state to set a course for a more well-rounded transportation policy. But we wonder if the two-year duration of the study will be cited to derail the push next year for more transit funding.

IndyConnect, the coalition seeking to diversify transportation options in Indianapolis, is expected to ask the 2012 Legislature to authorize referenda in which local governments could ask voters to sign off on a dedicated, ongoing source of funds, such as a percentage of sales or income tax revenue.

If legislators will listen to the IndyConnect folks with an open mind, it could signal the beginning of a more well-rounded transportation system for the state—one that doesn’t rely entirely on our network of interstates, impressive as they are.•

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To comment on this editorial, write to ibjedit@ibj.com.

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  1. Cramer agrees...says don't buy it and sell it if you own it! Their "pay to play" cost is this issue. As long as they charge customers, they never will attain the critical mass needed to be a successful on company...Jim Cramer quote.

  2. My responses to some of the comments would include the following: 1. Our offer which included the forgiveness of debt (this is an immediate forgiveness and is not "spread over many years")represents debt that due to a reduction of interest rates in the economy arguably represents consideration together with the cash component of our offer that exceeds the $2.1 million apparently offered by another party. 2. The previous $2.1 million cash offer that was turned down by the CRC would have netted the CRC substantially less than $2.1 million. As a result even in hindsight the CRC was wise in turning down that offer. 3. With regard to "concerned Carmelite's" discussion of the previous financing Pedcor gave up $16.5 million in City debt in addition to the conveyance of the garage (appraised at $13 million)in exchange for the $22.5 million cash and debt obligations. The local media never discussed the $16.5 million in debt that we gave up which would show that we gave $29.5 million in value for the $23.5 million. 4.Pedcor would have been much happier if Brian was still operating his Deli and only made this offer as we believe that we can redevelop the building into something that will be better for the City and City Center where both Pedcor the citizens of Carmel have a large investment. Bruce Cordingley, President, Pedcor

  3. I've been looking for news on Corner Bakery, too, but there doesn't seem to be any info out there. I prefer them over Panera and Paradise so can't wait to see where they'll be!

  4. WGN actually is two channels: 1. WGN Chicago, seen only in Chicago (and parts of Canada) - this station is one of the flagship CW affiliates. 2. WGN America - a nationwide cable channel that doesn't carry any CW programming, and doesn't have local affiliates. (In addition, as WGN is owned by Tribune, just like WTTV, WTTK, and WXIN, I can't imagine they would do anything to help WISH.) In Indianapolis, CW programming is already seen on WTTV 4 and WTTK 29, and when CBS takes over those stations' main channels, the CW will move to a sub channel, such as 4.2 or 4.3 and 29.2 or 29.3. TBS is only a cable channel these days and does not affiliate with local stations. WISH could move the MyNetwork affiliation from WNDY 23 to WISH 8, but I am beginning to think they may prefer to put together their own lineup of syndicated programming instead. While much of it would be "reruns" from broadcast or cable, that's pretty much what the MyNetwork does these days anyway. So since WISH has the choice, they may want to customize their lineup by choosing programs that they feel will garner better ratings in this market.

  5. The Pedcor debt is from the CRC paying ~$23M for the Pedcor's parking garage at City Center that is apprased at $13M. Why did we pay over the top money for a private businesses parking? What did we get out of it? Pedcor got free parking for their apartment and business tenants. Pedcor now gets another building for free that taxpayers have ~$3M tied up in. This is NOT a win win for taxpayers. It is just a win for Pedcor who contributes heavily to the Friends of Jim Brainard. The campaign reports are on the Hamilton County website. http://www2.hamiltoncounty.in.gov/publicdocs/Campaign%20Finance%20Images/defaultfiles.asp?ARG1=Campaign Finance Images&ARG2=/Brainard, Jim

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