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Pence Says Hoosier State Line's Future In Cities' Hands, Not State's

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James Britton
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https://www.flickr.com/photos/jbritton/2830693569

Governor Mike Pence is noncommittal on whether Indiana will support the future of the Hoosier State Passenger Rail Line with state dollars.  Speaking to reporters Thursday, Pence shifted responsibility to local communities along the line that runs between Chicago and Indianapolis.

Federal funding for the Hoosier State Line was cut off last year.  The state and local communities along the line reached a temporary funding agreement that keeps the route running through October. 

But Indianapolis has announced it will no longer contribute funds.  Crawfordsville Mayor Todd Barton says even if the legislature approves new money in the budget it will create next session, there will be a gap in time when the line will have to shut down…unless the state steps up. 

Governor Pence says the state will operate in good faith.

“But it’s going to take an ongoing partnership with all of the communities along the line to be able to do that and I think the communities that stand to benefit from the Hoosier Rail Line should participate in supporting that line,” Pence says.

Barton doesn’t disagree, saying it’s difficult for the communities currently helping fund the line to provide more dollars when some aren’t chipping in at all.

“We have the city of Beech Grove not really participating and they’re not on the route, but they benefit with all the jobs.  And unfortunately we have the city of Dyer not participating and still have a stop.  So that makes it tough for us to sell it at home,” Barton says.

The state is replacing Amtrak, which currently runs the line, with a private management company that’s expected to help improve the line and make it more cost-effective.  Barton says that will help encourage local communities to invest -- but without the state and Indianapolis chipping in, he thinks the line will likely die.

Brandon Smith is excited to be working for public radio in Indiana. He has previously worked in public radio as a reporter and anchor in mid-Missouri for KBIA Radio out of Columbia. Prior to that, he worked for WSPY Radio in Plano, Illinois as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. His first job in radio was in another state capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a reporter for three radio stations around Missouri. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.
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