To move this project forward, the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District (NICTD), operator of the South Shore Line (SSL), initiated a study to assess the potential impacts of the Double Track Northwest Indiana (NWI) project on the man-made and natural environments. This effort builds on prior and current planning studies in Michigan City and for the Miller/Lake Street Station in Gary. The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and NICTD prepared an Environmental Assessment (EA) and Section 4(f) Evaluation to identify any impacts that the project may have on the human and natural environment.

The EA process is necessary to meet National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requirements and advance the project in the FTA’s New Starts funding program. An environmental review must be completed for NICTD to receive potential federal funding for the project. The Section 4(f) Evaluation is necessary to comply with the requirements of Sections 4(f) of the U.S. Department of Transportation Act and Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act.

The formal public comment period occurred in September and October 2017. The EA process is nearly complete as of March 2018. NICTD expects that the FTA will prepare a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) in May 2018. A FONSI is required for the project to advance.

NICTD submitted the project for a formal Project Rating with the FTA in September, 2017. NICTD made a request to defer the FTA rating decision in February 2018 to complete EA and update the financing plans needed to move the project forward. As a result, the Double Track NWI Project was listed as unrated in the Annual Report on Funding Recommendations (Annual Report). NICTD is working with FTA to update the financial information for a ratings decision and the project will remain eligible for funding consideration in the Fiscal Year 2019 federal budget once the rating decision is complete. 

The EA and Section 4(f) Evaluation is available for public review at: Environmental Assessment and Section 4(f) Evaluation

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