As lawmakers grapple with funding the state’s roads and bridges, many communities don’t want them to forget another mode of transportation: rail. And Republican leaders say the Hoosier State Rail Line’s future in the next two-year state budget should be secure.
Lawmakers provided $6 million in the last two-year budget for the Hoosier State Line from Indianapolis to Chicago. The money came from a one-time source, the state’s tax amnesty program.
Providing that same funding level this year will likely require General Fund dollars, and Sen. Brandt Hershman (R-Buck Creek) says he’s confident lawmakers will find the money.
“It’s a very innovative program,” Hershman says. “We really lead the nation not only in the privatization of the line but it has become the highest customer satisfaction line in the entire Amtrak system.”
As for whether the appropriation could increase to help improve the line, House Transportation Committee Chair Rep. Ed Soliday (R-Valparaiso) isn’t so sure.
“What are we going to get for it? Are we actually going to make it more attractive to draw in more Hoosiers, or…what are we going to get for more investment,” Soliday says.
Soliday adds the rail line won’t be in the major roads funding bill; he says he wants to keep that legislation’s focus on roads and bridges.