Chesterton Tribune



NICTD cleared to begin design phase of West Lake Corridor

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The Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District (NICTD), operator of the South Shore commuter line, is announcing that it’s been greenlighted to begin the design and engineering phase of the West Lake Corridor project, after receiving approval to enter the New Starts Engineering phase of the Federal Transit Administration’s Capital Investment Grant program.

“Extending rail service will save Hoosiers both time and money, but it’s also a critical part of our efforts to strengthen our economy and attract new residents,” Gov. Eric Holcomb said in a statement released by NICTD on Monday. “I’m grateful that local, state, and federal leaders have come together to connect Northwest Indiana to the nation’s third largest city and beyond so that our workforce and businesses will be able to mutually grow.”

The West Lake Corridor project involves construction of a new eight-mile line extending from Hammond on the north to Dyer on the south. Four new stations will be built: a gateway station in north Hammond; another at 173rd Street in Hammond; a station at Ridge Road in Munster; and a station at the municipal boundary of Munster and Dyer off Main Street. A new maintenance facility will also be constructed in north Hammond.

The West Lake Corridor project is being made possible by NICTD’s partnership with the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority and the Indiana Finance Authority. The current state budget, which Holcomb signed into law earlier this year, doubles the state’s investment in Northwest Indiana by dedicating $184 million more to projects and includes an additional $20 million contingency fund.

“The West Lake project will be transformational,” U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-1st said. “This success will help retain and attract people and businesses which will grow our region. I will continue to work with all parties involved to secure the necessary federal funding to support the application. We will continue to work toward the same success for the NICTD double-track project.”

“This development is welcome news for future job creation and economic growth in Northwest Indiana,” U.S. Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., noted.

“This important development on the South Shore line will connect Hoosiers in Lake County and nearby communities to high-paying jobs and other opportunities will encouraging investment in the Munster, Hammond, and Dyer areas.”

“We are truly excited to announce that the West Lake Corridor project has reached this critical milestone in the FTA’s Capital Investment grant program,” said Michael Noland, president and CEO of NICTD. “The continued hard work of the project team and the full support of Gov. Holcomb, the Indiana General Assembly, and our Hoosier congressional delegation is reflected in reaching this critical milestone.”

Meanwhile, “NICTD, the RDA, and the Indiana Finance Authority will continue to work with state and federal authorities on advancing toward federal funding of the second major commuter rail expansion project in the region: the Double-Track Northwest Indiana project, a 25-mile corridor improvement including the construction of 17 miles of new track, four new bridges, high-level platforms at three stations, the elimination of street-running rail in Michigan City, and the closure of 21 grade-crossings.

Combined, the Double-Track and West Lake Corridor projects “are projected to attract approximately $2.3 billion in private investment to Northwest Indiana, and result in 6,000 new jobs and $3 billion in economic impact by 2048.

“These projects will be game-changers for the region and the state,” said Bill Hanna, president and CEO of the RDA. “By increasing our connectivity to Chicago, the third-largest metro area in the country, commuter rail will drive job creation and economic development here in Northwest Indiana and provide a much better opportunity for residents to compete for high-paying jobs in Chicago.”



Posted 10/8/2019






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