Council committee advances mass transit funding plan

A proposal that would let Marion County residents vote for an income-tax increase to help fund expanded mass transit passed a City County Council committee Tuesday night.

Proposal 145 was approved 7-1 by the Rules and Public Policy Committee, moving it to the full council, which will begin discussing the measure May 9.

The proposal calls for a Nov. 8 referendum that would let voters choose whether they want a 0.25 percent income-tax hike to raise funds for public transportation projects.

The tax increase would help fund the IndyGo Marion County Transit Plan, which includes extended service hours, shorter wait times, and the creation of three rapid-transit bus lines.

One big part of the transit plan is the Red Line, a rapid-transit bus line that would run from Westfield to Greenwood at a projected cost of $170 million to $200 million.

In Marion County, the first 13-mile phase, which would run from 66th Street in Broad Ripple to the University of Indianapolis, is expected to cost $96 million to build and another $6 million annually to operate. Construction is expected to start in spring 2017, with routes open for service in fall 2018.

IndyGo hopes to partially pay for the Marion County portion through federal funding. It is in line to receive a $75 million federal grant through the Small Starts program, although that funding isn't definite.

Hamilton and Johnson counties also would have to approve funding to complete the route.

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