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Governor Eric Holcomb, l-r, U.S. Senator Todd Young, and Mike Noland

Double Track done, West Lake Corridor coming next

Contributed By: The 411 News

South Shore Rail Line expansion at halfway mark

The last time Gary had a visit from an Indiana governor and an Indiana U.S. senator at the same time, no one can remember.

But it happened Monday when Gov. Eric Holcomb was joined by Senator Todd Young for the ribbon cutting at the South Shore Rail Line's new Miller Station.

Their visit, the ceremony and celebration was about more than the Miller Station. As it turned out, the station was the scene to mark a milestone in the completion of a plan to expand commuter rail transportation in northwest Indiana.

In 2014, the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority and NICTD (Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District), operator of the South Shore Rail Line, set about to show that expansion of commuter rail transportation could drive economic growth.

The core principle of their 20-Year Strategic Business Plan was to connect the resources and investments already made in northwest Indiana to Chicago, one of the world’s largest economies. That investing in the South Shore Rail Line and the region’s entire transportation infrastructure would be essential to creating jobs and improving the economy in the region.

Since 1970, the plan noted, Lake County had experienced a decline in population and median income.

When Gov. Holcomb arrived in Gary on the South Shore train that he had boarded in Michigan City, he was here to say that the plan had succeeded in reaching its mid point

After 2½ years of construction, the Double Track Project, a signature of the plan was done. Fourteen trains are being added to the daily schedule – 7 more South Shore trains departing from Indiana to Chicago and 7 more returning to Indiana from downtown Chicago.

“One hundred years later, this Double Track Project will continue to transform Northwest Indiana for generations to come,” Gov. Holcomb said. “This game-changing project is yet another example of how the State of Indiana continues to make targeted investments that attract talent and commercial investment that in turn helps our communities take it to their next level.”

“The level of coordination between the state and local governments along the corridor has been remarkable,” Senator Todd Young said. “When then-Secretary Elaine Chao joined me in visiting this project in 2017, it was clear to the entire U.S. Department of Transportation that this project would be a game-changer for the region. Countless individuals worked for decades to see the Double Track Project become a reality, and thousands of Hoosiers will benefit from their tireless commitment.”

Double Track added a second set of tracks to the 18-mile route between Gary and Michigan City. The route between Gary and Chicago already had a double set of tracks.

Mike Noland, president of the South Shore Line, said the $650 million Double Track Project was completed on time and under budget.

The final part of the plan is the $950 million West Lake Corridor Project, which will add a South Shore route from Hammond to Dyer, scheduled for completion in May 2025. Installation of the rail bridge over 45th Avenue in Munster was recently completed. The new rail line route will end at Main Street, the border line of Munster and Dyer.

The South Shore Line recently completed construction of its rail bridge over 45th Avenue and the CSX/CN rail tracks in Munster.

Story Posted:05/15/2024

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