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County pledges $20,000 toward rail study

Richard Davis
Richard Davis
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.The Associated Press

Hopes to restore passenger service lost in 1990

Friday, February 24, 2012 01:03 pm
The Allen County Commissioners Friday pledged $20,000 toward the latest study designed to restore the passenger rail service Fort Wayne lost in 1990.Supporters hope the $80,000 study, expected to be complete within six months, will persuade Amtrak or another carrier that there is enough demand for service between Fort Wayne and Chicago to justify two round-trip routes every day, said Richard Davis, president of the Downtown Improvement District, who spoke to the Commissioners on behalf of the Northeast Indiana Passenger Rail Association.

Although a previous study convinced the state to include Fort Wayne on a proposed route for high-speed rail service in 2002, the present effort is focused on less-expensive traditional passenger service, which Amtrak moved to tracks running through Waterloo more than 20 years ago. The latest study will explore such factors as the proposed service's financial viability, its impact on the economy and environment and possible construction cost, which Davis said could exceed $1 million for each of the 145 miles between Fort Wayne and Chicago.

Fort Wayne has already pledged $20,000 toward the study and the Community Foundation of Fort Wayne has pledged $10,000. Support will also be sought from businesses and other communities along the route, Davis said. The most likely route through Fort Wayne would be the former Amtrak line running just south of downtown, Davis said. It is now used primarily by freight carriers.

Commissioner Nelson Peters said he hoped the study will also help identify possible sources of construction funds. Davis noted that proposed legislation would allow communities to impose taxes earmarked for rail and other mass-transit projects.

Commissioner Therese Brown said improved rail service would benefit existing companies, such as Steel Dynamics Inc., and help attract new employers to the area. “This is just one more piece to the (economic development) puzzle,” she said.

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