RICH JAMES: Heavy state investment helps Indianapolis

2013-10-16T00:00:00Z RICH JAMES: Heavy state investment helps IndianapolisBy Rich James nwitimes.com
October 16, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Indianapolis is the largest U.S. city not on a navigable waterway.

Think about it. You can’t get into or out of Indianapolis by boat. That means things made and grown in this state generally aren’t shipped out of Indianapolis.

So why does the state capital continue to grow?

The simple answer is determination and money.

The General Assembly has made sure Indianapolis has plenty of money, or at least the ability to raise it.

Indianapolis has grown and prospered because the state has made sure it is attractive to outsiders.

It’s easy to get around Indianapolis, largely because it has a highway system greater than the demand.

And Indianapolis doesn’t have a whole lot of competition. Heck, there isn’t a city within miles that has more people than cows and hogs.

Things are different in Northwest Indiana. The Legislature traditionally has thrown a bone up this way after Indianapolis is through with the steak.

What got me thinking about all this was Gov. Mike Pence’s announcement that he is going to name a star-studded commission to focus on the future of the state’s transportation system.

“With the expertise and recommendations of this blue ribbon panel, Indiana will keep its finger on the pulse of infrastructure innovation and strive to provide businesses and Hoosiers with the most efficient transportation system available,” Pence said.

Great, but Indiana has a long way to go if it is to “keep its finger on the pulse of infrastructure innovation.”

If you live in Northwest Indiana and are leery of what might come out of this blue ribbon panel, don’t feel guilty.

But hey, it never hurts to talk about the future as long as you consider the present and remember the past.

Being an eternal optimist, I have high hope for this new commission.

I have hope NWI gets equal billing with Indianapolis.

I have hope the commission doesn’t look on Chicago as an adversary, but rather as a key for the future of NWI.

I have hope the commission realizes NWI is unique to Indiana because it was built on the steel industry that is just a shell of its former self because automation has idled three-fourths of the workforce.

I have hope the commission doesn’t need a study to determine the state should rebuild the Cline Avenue Bridge, serve as a catalyst for expanded commuter rail and develop the Gary/Chicago International Airport.

I also hope that somewhere along the way the commission stops and considers why Indianapolis has grown as it has.

And I have hope they will determine it wouldn’t have happened without a heavy state involvement.

What is that about reaping what you sow?

Rich James has been writing about state and local government and politics for more than 30 years. Email him at rjames@219.com. The opinions are the writer’s.

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