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An IndyGo bus.

Source: (Photo provided by IndyGo.)

STATEHOUSE — Debate was heated and in some case nearly got personal between state lawmakers in the Indiana Senate on Monday over a bill that would essentially block the city of Indianapolis from building the third leg of its rapid bus transit system.

The Blue Line is the final leg of the system that also includes the already completed Purple and Red Lines. The Purple Line would run from the Hancock County border with Marion County along Washington Street through the neighborhood of Irvington and eventually to the Indianapolis Int’l Airport.

State Sen. Aaron Freeman’s bill would place a moratorium on the project for a who year until early 2025 so a study can be done on the impacts of the project.

The bill has faced staunch opposition from Democrats, namely State Sen. Andrea Hunley and State Sen. Greg Taylor, both of whom represent districts in Indianapolis.

“Senate Bill 52 is not about a simple study,” said Hunley. “It’s about government overreach. It undercuts our local government. It undercuts the will of the voters and it is an overreach of this body and it’s powers.”

Hunley spoke for nearly 20 minutes citing research, study, and the views of businesses who support the Blue Line.

The debate reached a boiling point when Taylor questioned Freeman directly in front of the full Senate. The two went back and forth over statistics, engineering plans, and opinions on what the impacts of the Blue Line may be.

Freeman made the case that taking away three lanes of roadway on Washington (two travel lanes and a turn lane) would bottleneck traffic and cause traffic jams that would then force more traffic onto other thoroughfares. He added that it would also take away turn lanes for people to make left turns into certain businesses and roadways.

Taylor’s beef with the bill has to do with taxpayer money already dedicated to the Blue Line, which he said would be wasted if the bill becomes law. He even appealed to Republican lawmakers from northern Indiana counties at one point.

“We spent money from this body to help save your community from floods and everything else,” Taylor exclaimed. “And you’re going to sit here and support legislation that is going to take money from my constituents.”

Taylor was warned a handful of times by Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch (also the president of the Senate) to compose himself after using the word “pissed” to describe his emotions.

Ultimately, the bill was approved along party lines after a third reading and now it will head over to the Indiana House for consideration.