The board of the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority (RDA) yesterday approved a $1.6 million matching grant for the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District‘s South Shore Line double-track project.
The money will help offset the $4 million cost of preliminary engineering and environmental work for the project, RDA officials said in a press release.
The double-track project calls for adding a second full track to the existing South Shore Line from Gary to Michigan City, Ind. The line, which runs from Chicago to South Bend, Ind., has double track only from Chicago to Tennessee Street in Gary.
The remainder of the route has single track for both eastbound and westbound trains. As a result, trains must regularly slow or stop on passing sidings to allow trains traveling in the opposite direction to pass.
Adding the second track would “greatly reduce” commuting times to and from Chicago by allowing the South Shore Line to increase the number and speed of trains it runs each day, RDA officials said. Additionally, the project will give the northwestern Indiana region a leg up over its suburban Illinois counterparts in the competition for transit-oriented development, new businesses and new residents.
“Expanding capacity on the existing South Shore line is critical to boosting the economy and creating new jobs here in Northwest Indiana,” said Bill Hanna, RDA’s resident and chief executive officer.
Read more about the South Shore Line.