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Fort Wayne One Step Closer to Passenger Rail

Virginia Alvino

Fort Wayne is one step closer to bringing back passenger rail to the city. A memorandum of agreement was announced Wednesday.

Nine mayors including Fort Wayne’s Tom Henry will sign a memorandum of agreement to take the next step towards a passenger rail corridor from Chicago to Columbus. That requires an Environmental Impact Study.

Each community along the route must contribute funds towards that study.  Fort Wayne has already secured its share – $200,000

City Councilman and board member of the Northeast Indiana Passenger Rail Association Geoff Paddock, has been pushing for rail since the 90s.

“I think with what’s happened today, it will give us a big boost in raising the rest of the funds on both the Indiana and Ohio side," says Paddock, "because now we’re saying we’re serious, we mean business, we’ve got a strong coalition of 9 cities that want to see this project go.”

Paddock says a growing demand for mass transit has yielded bipartisan, public, and private support the project – support that may go a long way towards securing future federal grants for construction.If the study is successful, sources of funding would still need to be determined before preliminary engineering and construction can begin.

Paddock estimates the earliest the line would begin operation is 2020.