Mayor Lienhoop talks trains, other issues, with Governor

Columbus Mayor Jim Lienhoop took part in a private meeting Tuesday with Gov. Eric Holcomb and State Representative Milo Smith to discuss issues affecting Columbus.

Mayor Jim Lienhoop, Gov. Eric Holcomb and State Rep. Milo Smith; photo courtesy of City of Columbus
Mayor Jim Lienhoop, Gov. Eric Holcomb and State Rep. Milo Smith; photo courtesy of City of Columbus

The Mayor’s office says the first topic discussed was the impact of the expected increase in railroad traffic through the city. Expected to greatly increase in late 2018, the train traffic will affect the downtown area and, most seriously, the State Road 46 intersection. Mayor Lienhoop shared the results of work done by city staff and volunteers to collect data, identify possible solutions and present them to INDOT. A study showed that of all railroad crossings between Louisville and Indianapolis, the crossing at State Road 46 is the most impacted on the line, with twice as many delays as the next highest impacted crossing. Mayor Lienhoop explains that because that road is a state highway, INDOT has authority and will be instrumental in helping to fund whatever solution is put in place.

Mayor Lienhoop says that he also shared the frustrations experienced by the city with the state’s process of providing budget revenue estimates for local governments. He specifically cited the resulting restrictions placed on local units during budget preparation time.

The Mayor’s office says that Gov. Holcomb and Mayor Lienhoop also discussed the drug problem that is enveloping Columbus, Bartholomew County and much of the state. The pair discussed a statewide focus promoted by the Governor to deal with substance abuse and drug addiction. Mayor Lienhoop shared that Bartholomew County has started a new initiative through Healthy Communities Council and offered the community’s help wherever possible. That initiative is being led by the Mayor, County Commissioner Carl Lienhoop and Jim Bickel, President and CEO of Columbus Regional Health.

The last item discussed was a proposal by Indiana University to add a Masters of Architecture degree program in Columbus. The Indiana Commission on Higher Education will be voting on this proposal at their March meeting. Mayor Lienhoop, who supports the measure, says that a Master’s degree in Architecture program in Columbus would “continue to grow the design heritage that community leaders have spent decades building in our community.”