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Connecting Indiana with a Better Tomorrow

By: Yorgo Douramacos

A man is cutting a path through thick growth with towering trees over head and the eerie sounds of ancient life all around. This intrepid wanderer exploring the wilderness comes across a wide and rushing river. The flow of goods and the growth of an economy may not be the first thing on his mind in that moment. But more than an obstacle, more than a source of water or food, once a city takes hold in that very place, the river will mean transportation and connection to the outside world. Connection is the way a settlement becomes a city and the way a city thrives.

When Indiana first became a state its capitol sat on its southern periphery at Corydon, along the Ohio River. When it was decided in 1820 that the capitol should be moved to the center of the state it was under assurances that interior waterways could be made passable. This turned out not to be the case but the change had already happened. Contrasted with the lone pioneer coming upon a river without apprehending its significance, now an entire seat of government was stranded in a relative wilderness, left to concoct a means of connection with the rest of the state and the country.

Today Indiana is widely known as the Crossroads of America, its avenues of transit merge in Indianapolis and radiate outward to the entire country. This did not happen easily or all at once merely because it had to. It required generations of decisions and ideas. This question of transit, how to get where we need to go, how to make and maintain viable connections, has been central to the whole development of our state. It is a problem that was not solved once and then laid to rest. Even today it remains the business of individuals, businesses and legislators to dream and imagine better solutions.

The call for connection has changed over time from rivers, to cross country rail, to highways and back again. In this age the imperative is for mass transit. Modern day Hoosiers need that same spark of inspiration that turned rivers into lifelines and a remote town into a world class city. A better future cannot be un-connected future.