As the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum continues its efforts to resume excursions to LaCrosse, it’s asking the public for help covering its legal fees. The museum believes the restriction of its trains is a violation of the terms of an INDOT grant the Town of North Judson received in 2004 to purchase the line.
To argue its case, the museum says it’s had to hire both a local attorney and a federal one, and now it’s launched a GoFundMe page to help pay the legal bills. While the track is owned by the Town of North Judson, it’s operated by the Chesapeake and Indiana Railroad, under an extension of an agreement that expired in December. However, the terms of that extension have severely restricted the museum’s ability to run trains past English Lake and into LaCrosse.
While the museum believes this violates the terms of the INDOT grant, North Judson has questioned whether these provisions are in conflict with federal law. INDOT’s attorneys say the terms are valid, since it doesn’t appear that they prevent the operator from delivering freight.
Meanwhile, the town hopes to resolve the issue by leasing the railroad to a new operator, and including further protections for the museum in the lease agreement. Proposals from potential operators are due this Friday.