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Legacy funding unlikely for high-speed rail study

So Geoff Paddock seeking another source of $200,000

Tuesday, November 19, 2013 - 9:37 am

City Councilman Geoff Paddock said there’s been a warm reaction to his proposal that Fort Wayne help pay for an environmental impact study he hopes will bring passenger rail service back to Fort Wayne for the first time since 1990.

His plan to tap the city’s Legacy fund for $200,000, however, appears to have gotten the cold shoulder from some of his fellow Council members – at least five of whom would have to support his Legacy proposal.

So Paddock, D-5th, said Tuesday he is investigating other ways for Fort Wayne to pay its share of the $2 million study advocates say is a necessary first step toward building a high-speed rail line that would link Chicago with Columbus Ohio, passing through Fort Wayne. Other cities along the route - including Gary, Valparaiso, Plymouth and Warsaw - are also expected to contribute to the cost of the study, he said.

“I want to move forward (with the study), but there is a feeling (among some Council members) that maybe the Legacy fund isn’t a good fit,” said Paddock, who expects to discuss the issue at Tuesday’s Council meeting. “There’s room for interpretation on that, but I’ll be working with Council members and (City Controller) Pat Roller” on possible alternatives.

A vote could have come as soon as next week, but Paddock said a delay is possible.

He is not sure which alternative source of funds might be available if Legacy funds are not. The $75 million Legacy fund, generated by the sale of the city’s electric utility, is reserved for “transformative” projects and its use requires the support of six of Council’s nine members.