South Shore Line double-track project from Michigan City to Gary will add 18 miles of new track – Chicago Tribune

Officials on Monday celebrated the dual-track project on the South Shore Line from Michigan City to Gary, which will add nearly 18 miles of new track to a 26-mile corridor along northern Indiana’s commuter transportation district. .

Standing near the site of the future Michigan City station, Michael Noland, president of the South Shore Line, said attendees were in an active construction zone. The project has been underway for several weeks in Michigan City, Miller and Portage.

Many officials attended the groundbreaking ceremony, including U.S. Representative Frank Mrvan, D-Highland; U.S. Senator Todd Young, R-Indiana; Governor Eric Holcomb; former U.S. Representative Pete Visclosky, as well as the vast majority of Northwest Indiana’s delegation to the state legislature.

“It’s almost hard for me to believe this is happening. We’re turning dirt in Michigan City,” Noland said.

The dual-track project includes 18 miles of new dual-track territory, which includes a separate two-lane right-of-way along two miles in Michigan City, officials said.

The project will also replace 10th and 11th Street tracks, a new overhead contract system, 22 railroad crossings, 20 culverts, platform updates at five stations and more than 1,400 parking spaces, according to a release. release from the Governor’s Office.

The $650 million project will be funded through federal, state and local resources, with $173 million in federal funding coming from the Federal Transit Administration’s Capital Investment Grant program and an additional $24 million from the ‘American Rescue Plan Act, according to the press release.

Construction is expected to be complete by 2024, Noland said, and once complete, trains will run every 16 minutes during peak weekdays and approximately every 75 minutes during off-peak weekdays, according to the release. hurry.

The dual-track and West Lake Corridor expansion projects are expected to attract $2.7 billion in private investment to northwest Indiana and create more than 6,000 new jobs and $5 billion in new jobs. economic impact by 2048, according to the press release.

In a statement, Visclosky, the current president of Gary/Chicago International Airport, said work on the project was not complete.

“We must now do everything we can to ensure that the development potential of the South Shore Rail Line is maximized in an economically and socially positive way. We also need to begin work today to further extend the South Rim Rail line southeast of Valparaiso and further south into Lake County,” Visclosky said.

Mrvan said in a statement that the project will reduce travel times, increase train frequency, improve public safety and promote economic development.

“I look forward to seeing how this success will be enjoyed by all of the individuals and families who use the upgraded passenger train to recreate and work in the Chicagoland and South Bend area,” Mrvan said.

Sherri Ziller, president and CEO of the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority, said the organization has been working on the project since 2014.

“It’s not the end for us, it’s the beginning for Northwest Indiana,” Ziller said.

Holcomb said the inauguration “has been a long time coming.”

With the region’s proximity to Chicago, the South Shore Line’s dual track will connect the city to northwest Indiana, Holcomb said.

“This is truly a Hoosier moment in history like no other,” Holcomb said. “Northwest Indiana is not only special, it is unique in its location.”

Holcomb said he encouraged people to move to northwest Indiana from Illinois for a better cost of living, and the double tracking is a selling point.

“(The double-tracking) will make our job of selling that area of ​​the state a lot easier because of the market it’s next to,” Holcomb said.

Young said he’s glad the project is underway.

“I’m really excited that people come here to work, live, pray and play,” Young said.

Sen. Eddie Melton, D-Gary, said the project will bring “economic growth and opportunity” to Gary.

Melton said officials should begin planning for a new subway hub as well as affordable housing near the downtown Gary station.

“It will surely help increase our population and our economic development, especially with the proximity to Chicago,” Melton said.

Lake County Commissioner Michael Repay, D-3rd, said he is excited about the growth the dual tracking will bring to the region.

While it’s beneficial for the train line to connect the area to Chicago, Repay said the train line will also connect various cities in northwest Indiana.

“The sky is the limit for potential,” Repay said. “We don’t know what the future holds, but it’s full of opportunities.”

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