February 27, 2024

“It targets one city now.” Despite opposition, House committee passes bill effectively killing Indianapolis Blue Line

Representative Blake Johnson (D-Indianapolis, right) broke into tears as he urged fellow lawmakers to oppose SB52. - Photo from House committee live stream

Representative Blake Johnson (D-Indianapolis, right) broke into tears as he urged fellow lawmakers to oppose SB52.

Photo from House committee live stream

A House committee voted Tuesday to approve a bill effectively killing the Indianapolis Blue Line, the city’s third bus rapid transit system.

The bill puts a one-year moratorium on dedicated lanes in Indianapolis to study the transportation option. IndyGo officials have said that will likely scuttle millions in federal funds for the project.

Months of testimony on the bill, much of it in opposition, led to an emotional hearing in the House Roads and Transportation Committee.

Representative Blake Johnson (D-Indianapolis) broke into tears as he urged fellow lawmakers to oppose the legislation. He noted that he had advocated for the Blue Line for roughly a decade.

“Here we are in a job where I thought I was no longer city councilor and I feel like I’m in the same hearing all over again but instead of winning dramatically I’m losing dramatically,” he said. “That kind of sucks.”

An amendment to the bill now makes the legislation Marion County-specific, a move that was made after transportation officials from cities across Indiana testified against the legislation.

“This is really, really, really bad public policy,” Johnson said. “It targets one city now, just one city.”

Other lawmakers who spoke against the measure noted the overwhelming opposition mounted by community members against the bill.

Representative Earl Harris (D-East Chicago) noted that he didn’t live in Indianapolis and didn’t understand why the legislature was ruling on the issue at all.

“Local people have already decided on this. Local people have made their decision, local people have shown up for two weeks in a row,” he said.

Committee chair Jim Pressel (R-Rolling Prairie) acknowledged he had struggled with the legislation.

“But I think this is the right thing to do. This is the pause that needs to take place so we can have an overall conversation about road funding,” he said.

The committee voted 9-4 to approve the bill. It now heads to the full House.

 

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