The Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum’s efforts to resume train trips to LaCrosse appear to have gotten a boost from the Indiana Department of Transportation. In a letter dated June 1, attorneys representing INDOT in the matter say there’s plenty of room on the track for all users, including freight customers and museum excursions.
When the short line railroad was purchased by the Town of North Judson in 2004, it received grant funding from INDOT. That grant included a stipulation that freight traffic may not interfere with the museum or its excursions.
However, the current extension of the town’s agreement with line’s operator severely limits the number of trains the museum may operate beyond English Lake into Lacrosse. Instead of hosting passenger excursions, that stretch of track is now being used to store freight cars.
Town officials have questioned whether the terms of the INDOT grant are in conflict with federal law. In last week’s letter, INDOT’s attorneys argue that the provisions are valid, since there’s no evidence that the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum’s excursions prevent the operator from delivering freight. The letter also says that INDOT plans to monitor the situation going forward, to make sure the museum’s operations are protected in the long term.
North Judson is currently in the process of finding a company to lease the railroad, and the town council approved a request for proposals last week. Town officials plan to include provisions allowing the museum to resume its full train schedule in any future lease agreement.