The Indiana Transportation Museum will sue the Hoosier Heritage Port Authority and the cities of Noblesville and Fishers for money lost when it was was ordered to close an historic stretch of track.
On one side, the Hoosier Heritage Port Authority and the cities of Noblesville and Fishers are concerned the Indiana Transportation Museum doesn’t have enough money to keep its tracks in working order. City officials from Noblesville and Fishers want to see the Nickel Plate tracks transformed into trails.
On the other side, museum board chairman John McNichols says the tracks and annual Polar Bear Express and State Fair trains contribute to the economies of those cities.
“We have proposed many times, along with other organizations, to look at rails with trails,” McNichols says. “The only conversation we’ve heard is what trails will do, we’ve not heard the negative impact, especially economically, of ripping up the rails.”
The Hoosier Heritage Port Authority claim the tracks are unsafe. It closed them and suspended train operations three days before the 2016 State Fair – in spite of an earlier Federal Railroad Administration inspection that deemed the tracks were safe.
The Indiana Transportation Museum says the suspension cost it more than $500,000.
The tort is the first step in filing a federal lawsuit to retrieve those funds. But McNichols says the best outcome would allow the museum to resume train operations.
The Indiana Transportation Museum is a nonprofit museum, opened in 1960. Although it’s entirely run by volunteers, the trains, crews and track are certified by the Federal Railroad Administration.