Recent media accounts missed the real story on Fishers and Noblesville’s selfish plan to remove the rail tracks that run all the way to downtown Indianapolis (aka the Nickel Plate Railroad or State Fair train tracks) but uncovered a void in regional transit leadership.
Indianapolis is shockingly complicit in this flawed effort apparently made without public input. Fishers has no authority to tear out the tracks, since the matter is being challenged at the Surface Transportation Board by a freight railroad that wants the tracks preserved.
What is a mystery is why Indianapolis’ Department of Public Works is, out of the blue (without any public comment), now supporting prompt abandonment of this regional transit corridor—dedicated rail tracks that run from north of Noblesville all the way to 22nd Street. (The corridor itself is preserved all the way to 10th Street downtown.)
This corridor would be ideal for conversion to bus rapid transit, Amtrak service, special events use, a State Fair Train, or both trail and transit.
Since when is DPW in charge of regional transit? Where is IndyGo, MPO, Health by Design, the Indy Chamber and Amtrak? Was the mayor or even the City Council briefed?
Two weeks ago the tracks between 13th and 20th streets were removed. Who authorized this and why?
The lack of regional transit leadership is disappointing as is DPW’s surprise entry on the wrong side of the issue.
Indianapolis should cease all further filings with the STB, withdraw the two it has made and instead commence a study of the best use of this regional transit treasure.
The State Fair Train tracks/Nickel Plate can support both a rail-trail use while still preserving the current rail tracks for transit use.