The State of Indiana is growing in population and has a reputation of being a business friendly state. With $99 Billion in Gross Metropolitan Product in 2009, Indianapolis is ranked 29th as a top major market in the United States. The Gary-Hammond-East Chicago area, with its proximity to the burgeoning Chicago and Illinois suburbs, is uniquely positioned to grow in both population and economic strength.
Where the state lags behind is in the area of alternative transportation infrastructure development. Indianapolis, for example, is one of just a few major market communities that do not have a public rapid transit system. At the 13th Annual Golden Spike Seminar of the Indiana High Speed Rail Association, the Hoosier Environmental Council exhibited how 135 people would drive 135 cars to fill up five blocks of roadway, end to end, while 135 people riding in four buses would fill up just one block in only one lane of roadway.
Other presenters exhibited that short run air service, such as Indianapolis to Chicago, is expensive and often not profitable for the airlines, whereas a high speed rail system could whisk travelers to the "Windy City" in just over one hour at a much more reasonable travel cost. All this to say Indiana is in dire need of a transportation policy and system that makes sense and that should include passenger rail.
Transportation is about economic growth. Whether it is airlines, cars or trains, all add to the economic growth of our great state and its communities. Our association has strong reason to believe a Lafayette and Lawrenceburg will grow their economies measurably with high speed trains serving them, just as Indianapolis and South Bend are growing their economies with air travel services.
We anticipate that the findings on high speed rail will also reveal enormous savings for companies and business travelers who now see air services and automobile travel as being a time and economic expense they can no long afford. Tourism will also greatly benefit. High speed trains, along with other modes, will be promoting areas of Indiana as a tourism destination. That means more people coming to all areas of the state including the less densely populated areas, to see our magnificent historic amenities
The trains coming into the Gary Chicago International Airport and the Indianapolis International Airport could also better serve the short to medium runs, while bringing passengers to those airports for longer distance travel - and these rail connections can be done more efficiently than can cars or commuter air connections, with far less hassle related to airport check-in activity.
Now, the signature of high speed trains is safety. In over 60 years of service, world wide, there have been only 95 fatalities related to high speed trains, compared to some 40,000 car-related fatalities annually in the United States alone. Up to October 4, deaths on Indiana Highways have already surpassed the year 2011 with 589 reported fatalities. That statistic alone should be sufficient enough reason in itself to spur us in to developing a high speed rail system that includes local mass transit services.
Supporters of the Gary Chicago International Airport should be all over the concept of bringing a high speed rail system to that area of the state. Doing so would be an amazing added attraction to the development of that facility. With these trains, Purdue and Indiana Universities could bring a heralded group of Nobel laureates and more students from all over the Midwest to their main campuses, and have better and more efficient connectivity with its regional campuses.
Here are four more reasons to support the development of high speed rail in Indiana. Arcelor Mittal in East Chicago is now able to produce a light weight steel for the railroad equipment. Nashan America in Lafayette in poised to manufacture the shells for high-speed passenger rail cars, Progress Rail Company in Muncie is prepared to manufacture the new generation of high speed passenger train locomotives, and Steel Dynamics in Columbia City is able to manufacture the new generation of railroad tracks.
In summary, high speed rail in Indiana not only makes economic sense, the system is uniquely designed to increase our state's commercial activity and add a new tax base while providing for a more pleasant and efficient travel experience. The Indiana High Speed Rail Association invites all Indiana citizens and elected officials to seriously consider high speed rail for this state. Economically, it is the right thing to do.
Dennis Hodges can be reached at email@example.com
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