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.