IBJOpinion

EDITORIAL: Wise decision on federal rail funds

IBJ Staff
November 14, 2009
Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share
IBJ Editorial

Local advocates of high-speed rail are understandably disappointed that the Indiana Department of Transportation has dropped the Chicago-Indianapolis-Cincinnati corridor from its application for federal rail funds (see story, page 1), but the logic behind doing so seems sound.

Competition for the $8 billion in federal funds is stiff—applications totaling $57 billion have been filed—and the guidelines suggest routes that are further along in planning and cover multiple states will be viewed more favorably. If the Obama administration is serious about high-speed rail, there will be other opportunities to fund work on the route, which falls almost entirely within Indiana.

Although the route isn’t in the mix this go-around, it’s encouraging that the state intends to apply for funds for the Chicago-to-Cleveland line.

For decades, the department has been more a department of roads than a true department of transportation. Almost 100 percent of its budget is typically devoted to road projects, with only a pittance going toward alternative forms of transportation.

And roads clearly still dominate the discussion in Indiana. The Indiana Commerce Connector that Gov. Mitch Daniels proposed in 2007 was a non-starter, but a network of roads that would accomplish essentially the same thing—an outer loop beyond Interstate 465—is happening in piecemeal fashion as the counties surrounding Indianapolis lay plans to connect to one another.

Among the many high-ticket road projects on the state’s to-do list is a $567 million plan to revamp I-465 and Interstate 69 on the northeast side beginning in 2012. And of course work already has started near Evansville on the controversial $1.8 billion extension of I-69 through southern Indiana.

The state can’t turn back the tide on all these road projects, nor should it, but it needs a healthy mix of transportation types to keep up with other states. Taking advantage of federal money is a start, but the state needs to make available to communities throughout Indiana a stream of dedicated funds for alternative transportation projects.

Even projects funded largely by the federal government typically require 20-percent local participation, and right now that money isn’t anywhere to be found.

Legislation in the last two sessions of the General Assembly that would’ve allowed local governments to capture a percentage of state sales taxes for alternative transportation gained support among lawmakers but ultimately failed to pass.

Given the state of the economy and continued state revenue shortfalls, the 2010 legislative session might not be the best time to push for such legislation again, but eventually the issue will have to be dealt with.

The state’s application for high-speed rail funds is clearly motivated by the availability of federal money. But we hope it also signals a genuine change in philosophy on the state level—one that places more importance on alternative forms of transportation.•

__________

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


ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. I never thought I'd see the day when a Republican Mayor would lead the charge in attempting to raise every tax we have to pay. Now it's income taxes and property taxes that Ballard wants to increase. And to pay for a pre-K program? Many studies have shown that pre-K offer no long-term educational benefits whatsoever. And Ballard is pitching it as a way of fighting crime? Who is he kidding? It's about government provided day care. It's a shame that we elected a Republican who has turned out to be a huge big spending, big taxing, big borrowing liberal Democrat.

  2. Why do we blame the unions? They did not create the 11 different school districts that are the root of the problem.

  3. I was just watching an AOW race from cleveland in 1997...in addition to the 65K for the race, there were more people in boats watching that race from the lake than were IndyCar fans watching the 2014 IndyCar season finale in the Fontana grandstands. Just sayin...That's some resurgence modern IndyCar has going. Almost profitable, nobody in the grandstands and TV ratings dropping 61% at some tracks in the series. Business model..."CRAZY" as said by a NASCAR track general manager. Yup, this thing is purring like a cat! Sponsors...send them your cash, pronto!!! LOL, not a chance.

  4. I'm sure Indiana is paradise for the wealthy and affluent, but what about the rest of us? Over the last 40 years, conservatives and the business elite have run this country (and state)into the ground. The pendulum will swing back as more moderate voters get tired of Reaganomics and regressive social policies. Add to that the wave of minority voters coming up in the next 10 to 15 years and things will get better. unfortunately we have to suffer through 10 more years of gerrymandered districts and dispropionate representation.

  5. Funny thing....rich people telling poor people how bad the other rich people are wanting to cut benefits/school etc and that they should vote for those rich people that just did it. Just saying..............

ADVERTISEMENT