The Indiana Transporation Museum has filed for a temporary restraining order, enjoining the Hoosier Heritage Port Authority from announcing its decision on an operator for the Nickel Plate Railroad.

In a press release issued Monday, ITM said it took the action to "prevent the Authority from committing several acts that could irreparably damage the Museum, the Nickel Plate tracks and the Museum's historical assets and artifacts."

"We have asked for an expedited review of the TRO, so we may have a decision within

10 days. Normally something like this takes 30 days," said David L. Shanks, president and ceo of Shank Public Relation Counselors Inc., representing ITM.

The request for the restraining order was filed in the United States District Court, Southern District of Indiana, at Indianapolis.

The temporary restraining order is necessary, Museum Board because the Museum believes HHPA planned to announce the results of a request for proposal to run the rail lines a month earlier than stated in the RFP, take control of the railroad tracks and evict the Museum from its home at Forest Park in Noblesville, said John McNichols, ITM Board chairman. Forest Park is owned by the City of Noblesville.

HHPA did not make a decision on an operator at its meeting Monday.

Specifically, if granted, the order restrains the Authority from:

• Destroying rail tracks

• Evicting the ITM from is site at Forest Park in Noblesville, and

• Granting an operator through the Authority's RFP issued in June.

If granted, the order would also rescind the original Authority suspension of Museum trains and allow the ITM to operate on the line immediately based on Federal Railroad Administration findings.

"That is not without precedent and due to the circumstances it's likely," McNichols said

If successful, the suit could allow the beloved State Fair Train, the Polar Bear Express Train, and future excursion trains to run on the Nickel Plate tracks.

"This litigation is the last thing we wanted to do, but the Authority and the owners - the cities of Noblesville, Fishers and Hamilton County - left us with no options if we want to continue and grow the legacy of historic railroads in central Indiana," McNichols said. "If successful, we could have the State Fair Train up and running to serve the families and children who love the Fair Train by the start of the 2017 Indiana State Fair."

The Museum in June sent the Authority and others the required initial notice of a tort claim for damages according to Indiana Code 34-13-3 through 25.

"This is a civil rights case brought against government entities and named officials because our organization's civil rights to conduct business have been violated through a lack of due process and bad faith negotiations," McNichols said. The Museum is an IRS-designated 501 (c) (3) not-for-profit organization.

"Because of the order to suspend operations by the authority last year, we've lost hundreds of thousands of dollars. And since our museum is an all-volunteer organization and does not receive any government funding, this is a serious blow." The Museum's trains, crews and track are reviewed and certified by the Federal Railroad Administration.

Support for the Museum and its historic and entertainment trains is growing."

The Nickel Plate is jointly owned by the cities of Noblesville and Fishers, and Hamilton County.

Noblesville and Fishers have announced plans to convert 9.3 miles of the railroad, between 96th Street in Fishers to Pleasant Street in Noblesville.

Noblesville officials declined to comment on the temporary restraining order since it was filed against the Hoosier Heritage Port Authority and not the city.

Calls for reaction from Fishers officials, and HHPA representatives were not returned by press time.