Rally for Rail, Rolling Forward! tomorrow – 1/16/2010

Northeast Indiana Passenger Rail Assocation logo

Press release from the Northeast Indiana Passenger Rail Association (NIPRA):

Rally for Rail scheduled for January 16th at 2 pm

The Northeast Indiana Passenger Rail Association (NIPRA) announced another Rally for Rail, Rolling Forward! to be held at the Baker Street Train Station, 221 West Baker Street, Fort Wayne, at 2 PM on Saturday January 16. Many of Northeast Indiana’s elected officials have been invited to attend. Confirmed speakers include Congressman Mark Souder, Mayor Tom Henry, Senator Tom Wyss, and Leigh Morris, Deputy Director of the Indiana Department of Transportation. Also speaking will be Tom Hayhurst, Fred Lanahan, and Geoff Paddock, founding members of NIPRA. Other speakers may be added to the lineup, leading up to the event.

“The purpose of the rally is to inform the general public about the progress being made to restore passenger rail service to this area of the state,” said Geoff Paddock, a founding member of NIPRA. Also of great importance is the connection of Fort Wayne to Chicago and Cleveland on the proposed Midwest High Speed Rail Network. “It is essential for the general public to come out and show support for this rail proposal. INDOT has an application before the Federal Rail Administration for approximately $2.8 billion. This grant would be used to construct a new high speed passenger rail line from Chicago through Warsaw and Fort Wayne, and east to Cleveland. The FRA will make a decision regarding the viability of this application sometime this winter,” Paddock said.

Leigh Morris will be a featured speaker. He is the Deputy Director of the Indiana Department of Transportation, a former Mayor of LaPorte, and a proponent of the high speed rail network through Indiana and the Midwest. INDOT Commissioner Michael Reed addressed a group of rail enthusiasts in Fort Wayne last July.

Also speaking will be U.S. Congressman Mark Souder, Mayor Tom Henry, State Senator Tom Wyss, and other government and business leaders (some to be announced later)

“Speakers believe it is time to invest in rail to connect our communities to jobs and to improve economic development, quality of life, and attractiveness of Indiana. Passenger rail expansion will also help wean the U.S. away from foreign oil. Policy makers on the federal level realize that rail needs to be expanded and are making some $ 8 billion in funds available through the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act,” Paddock said.

NIPRA believes interest in expanding rail is here and can create hundreds of jobs in this area (4,500 statewide) and save energy. Travel time to Chicago could be two to three hours, making it attractive to business and recreational travelers. NIPRA also believes the federal and state governments should adopt a policy of continuous improvements, treating the existing Amtrak network as a strong foundation of service. NIPRA is pleased with the commitment made by INDOT to fund high speed passenger rail.

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