FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – At Fort Wayne City Council Tuesday night, there was a 7-1 vote for a non-binding approval of Councilman Geoff Paddock’s plan for passenger rail service connecting the city to Chicago and Columbus, Ohio.

The lone opponent of the rail was Jason Arp, 4th district, who said more and more people are using Zoom to communicate virtually, and that rail numbers have been down since COVID-19.

The non-binding agreement doesn’t move the needle on the likelihood of the rail, however, as the city still needs federal and state funding.

Paddock remains optimistic that the vote from council will send a strong message to the Indiana Department of Transportation.

“This would be a huge economic development project for Fort Wayne, and for Indiana,” Paddock said.

To get the project done, they will need a massive amount of money.

The funding looks to be an 80/20 split with 80% of the total coming from federal dollars, and the remaining 20%, an estimated $150 million, would come from the state, local money, and private investment.

Paddock isn’t just hopeful that the state can come up with its part of the match, but that the project would enable a whole host of new opportunities for Fort Wayne and the affected areas.

“We think there’s a good possibility that the state will come up with their 20% of the match.”

“I can see folks getting off a train here, getting on a Citilink bus, going to our airport and catching a plane out of Fort Wayne – a lot of transportation connectivity with this plan.”

And on Tuesday night, city council shared his positivity.

“I do admire your vision and respect frankly your love for Fort Wayne, and I do think this is worthy of supporting,” said Paul Ensley, representative of the 1st district.

“It would actually begin to put us in a much more competitive position,” said councilman Russ Jehl, representative of the 2nd district.