RDA Receives Outstanding Transportation Plan Award for NWI Commuter Rail Vision

RDA President and CEO Bill Hanna and COO Sherri Ziller.

The Indiana chapter of the American Planning Association recently selected the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority’s comprehensive strategic plan update as its 2017 Outstanding Transportation Plan Award winner.

The updated focused on commuter rail expansion in Northwest Indiana and outlined plans for transit oriented development over the next two decades.

“It was a very thorough plan that did a good job of showing future investment,” said Lisa Dunaway, Instructor of Urban Planning at Ball State University and chair of this year’s awards committee. “It is a holistic plan that includes short and long-term implementation steps. We felt it could be a very good model to be replicated by other groups.”

“We are honored to be recognized by the Indiana chapter of the American Planning Association,” says RDA President and CEO Bill Hanna. “This award reflects the commitment of our staff and our partners at American Structurepoint and Policy Analytics to bringing transformational change to Northwest Indiana. Commuter rail expansion will bring thousands of new jobs and billions in private investment to the region, and this plan will ensure that we maximize those investments to make Northwest Indiana the leading area for economic growth in the state.”

Rail expansion in Northwest Indiana is projected to attract an estimated 11,000 new residents and about $1.9 billion in private investment over the next 20 years. For more details, download the RDA’s updated plan here

RDA Accelerates South Shore Double Tracking with New Funding Commitment

The Board of Directors of the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority today approved an ongoing commitment of up to $3 million annually for the next 30 years to help fund the South Shore double tracking project. This commitment stands as Lake and Porter counties’ portion of the project cost, which are being shared by local governments in the four northern Indiana counties that the South Shore serves: Lake, Porter, LaPorte and St. Joseph.

RDA funding comes in the wake of recent rail funding commitments across northern Indiana, including ones from Michigan City and LaPorte County. “Having local funding in place for South Shore double tracking puts us at a significant advantage over other parts of the country that are also seeking federal matching funds for their transportation projects,” says Bill Hanna, President and CEO of the RDA. The Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District, which operates the South Shore, plans to begin construction on the approximately $290 million project by 2019 and have trains operating on the new rail by 2020.

Fully double tracking the existing South Shore line from Gary to Michigan City, combined with other improvements including high level boarding platforms and track realignments in South Bend and Michigan City, will dramatically lower travel times and improve service to and from Millennium Station in Chicago, as shown in the accompanying table.

Together, the West Lake Corridor project in Lake County and the double tracking project across northern Indiana are projected to roughly double South Shore ridership; attract an estimated 11,000 new residents to Lake and Porter counties; create more than 6,000 new jobs in Indiana; and catalyze approximately $2 billion in private investment in Lake, Porter, LaPorte and St. Joseph counties over the next 20 years. For more details, download the RDA’s updated strategic plan.