FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – There’s a new push to bring modern passenger rail back to Fort Wayne.
The route would stretch from Chicago to the Summit City and continue to Columbus, Ohio.
It’s been something Fort Wayne City Councilman Geoff Paddock has been trying to achieve for more than a decade.
Paddock says a federal bill that was passed late last year made $36 billion available for passenger rail improvements.
“We are seeking about $800 million of that $36 billion of this portion of the project through Indiana and the Ohio state line,” Paddock said.
It’s an ambitious goal that has taken years to get off the ground, but is a project Paddock is hopeful about with the help of federal and state funds. He says it could make transportation more accessible to those living in our area.
“With a 20% match from the state of Indiana and we have some more work to do, but this is similar to the interstate highway plan of 1956 when interstate highways were built across the nation with 80% federal funding and a 20% match from the state,” Paddock said.
If Paddock’s goal becomes a reality, it would bring new life to Baker Street Station.
It’s a place that used to be a train hub that once saw 3,000 passengers a day during World War II.
Currently, It is being used as a banquet hall.
If the project comes to fruition, it could bridge a transportation gap between three states.
“We’re looking at approximately 150 miles from the Indiana line to the Ohio line where upgrades need to be made. We need passing track. We need signalization. We need train sets themselves and of course we need overpasses over some of the busier highways,” Paddock said.
According to Paddock, a feasibility study showed the investment would be worth it for the Summit City.
“If you make these connections to these cities you can have a viable route that actually has a good return on investment because there are a lot of potential populations being served here and of course several major cities including Fort Wayne and Columbus,” Paddock said.
Paddock has written a resolution in support of the project which the council is set to take up soon.