INDIANAPOLIS — The LaPorte County commissioners are pursuing legal action to try to undo a new state law changing the board membership of the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District (NICTD), which operates the South Shore Line.
On Wednesday, the commissioners approved a resolution condemning the move to a five-member, governor-appointed board, in place of the former 11-member board that had a majority of its members selected by the Lake, Porter, LaPorte and St. Joseph county commissioners and councils.
"There is no legal or ethical justification for having stripped the South Shore railroad of local control that has successfully positioned it nationally as a model of regional cooperation for four decades," the resolution declares.
The board change followed the state appropriating up to $205 million in additional funding in House Enrolled Act 1001 to ensure the South Shore Line's West Lake expansion and double-track projects still can be completed if the federal government reduces its matching grant program.
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The commissioners said they have no problem with the state putting up the extra funds to speed commutes between LaPorte County and Chicago, they just question the legality of the board change — even though both items were added to the state budget legislation shortly before a final General Assembly vote.
They're also asking officials in other Region counties to consider joining LaPorte County in a lawsuit to preserve the old NICTD board, which officially was eliminated Monday when Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb signed the new state budget into law.
The governor's office declined to respond to a request for comment on the resolution or the threatened lawsuit.