Thursday, June 03, 2004

Mass Transit Boondoggles

Central Indiana governments have been meeting with one another to consider the formation of a Regional Transit Authority, with the focus being the possibility of developing a light rail system.

The proposal includes a minimum $500 million dollar start-up cost to taxpayers, and won't begin service until 2011.

I was very pleased that the Star printed some of my objections in a feature story. There are so many objections to raise with this that I can't begin to name them all, so I'll name a few.

1. The best rail route from Indy to Carmel is the old Monon. Problem is, the Monon was abandoned and converted into a trail. The Monon Trail is beloved by the citizens of Central Indiana. It's development has spurred the revitalization of nearby neighborhoods and the development of new housing and restaurants. Carmel's mayor Jim Brainard is not suggesting going the trails-to-rails route, as he knows it is political suicide. So, in order to get a route from Indy to Carmel without using the best route, which was graded and straight, a brand new course must be taken, building from the ground up. This is the path of maximum expense.

2. Speaking of the Monon Trail, the route from Indy to Fishers, and the Noblesville, is the most viable for trains because it at least still has track on it. No right-of-way to acquire. No land surveys to conduct. The track is shot, but it's a whole lot cheaper to repair that to start from scratch. Problem is, everyone in Central Indiana knows how good the Monon Trail has been for the areas near it. Question is, why wouldn't the people who live near the old Nickel Plate rather see that route similarly go the way of rails-to-trails? Their property values would go way up, as would their quality of life. Nice, fun greenway or noisy unsafe transit corridor? Hmm... This could also become political suicide if these issues are observed, and especially if the parks people get involved.

Let's help bring this proposal to an end. More to come.

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