South Shore Line Publishes Environmental Assessment for Proposed Double Track NWI Project; Open House Public Hearings Scheduled

Project would add a second track between Gary and Michigan City

Chesterton, IN The Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District (NICTD) is moving forward with its Double Track NWI (DT-NWI) Project, a transformational rail enhancement project that will result in reduced travel time, more frequent train service, and expanded connectivity between northwest Indiana and Chicago. The DT-NWI Project will provide NICTD with the ability to add trains to meet the demands of growing ridership on its South Shore Line.

Today, as part of the federal environmental review process for DT-NWI, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and NICTD published an Environmental Assessment (EA) for the Project. The EA is an important step in the process of informing the public and gathering feedback about this critical project, all of which contributes to the project’s development to allow NICTD to apply for federal funding through the FTA.

The EA analyzes NICTD’s proposal to construct a second track between Virginia Street in Gary and E Michigan Boulevard in Michigan City. The DT-NWI project includes realigning the South Shore Line along 10th and 11th Streets in Michigan City and closing 21 at-grade crossings to increase safety in Michigan City. The project would also enhance the Gary/Miller, Portage/Ogden Dunes, Dune Park, Beverly Shores, and 11th Street (Michigan City) Stations.

The public is invited to attend one of two identical public hearings to speak with staff, ask questions, and formally comment on the project. The hearings will be held:

·       Wednesday, October 11, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Miller Beach Arts & Creative District, Marshall J. Gardner Center for the Arts, 540 S Lake St, Gary

·       Thursday, October 12, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Stardust Event Center, 777 Blue Chip Drive, Michigan City

The hearings will be held in an open house format. In addition to the public hearings, written comments will be accepted through October 23, 2017. Comments may be submitted via U.S. mail (NICTD, c/o DT-NWI Project, 33 E. U.S. 12, Chesterton, IN 46304), via email at DoubleTrackNWI@nictd.com, or on the project website at www.doubletrack-nwi.com/contact.

The EA is available on the project website (doubletrack-nwi.com/documents) and at the following locations:

·       Gary Public Library – Woodson Branch, 501 S Lake St, Gary, IN 46403

·       Portage Public Library, 2665 Irving St, Portage, IN 46368

·       NICTD, 33 E. U.S. 12, Chesterton, IN 46304 (in NICTD Offices adjacent to Dune Park Station)

·       Michigan City Public Library, 100 E 4th Street, Michigan City, IN 46360

·       Westchester Public Library, 200 West Indiana Ave., Chesterton, IN, 46304

·       Federal Transit Administration Region 5 – 200 West Adams Street, Suite 320, Chicago, IL 60606

“The South Shore Line team has been working tirelessly with the Federal Transit Administration, the Regional Development Authority and our stakeholder communities along the line to help make Double Track NWI a reality,” said Michael Noland, President of the South Shore Line. “We are proud to have our Environmental Analysis published as it represents another significant milestone achieved and we believe it is a great example of a project that has benefited from a true collaboration of ideas, thoughts, interests and concerns of our stakeholders. We look forward to receiving feedback on this vital project,” he added. 

The anticipated cost to construct the second track and station improvements is estimated at $312 million. NICTD anticipates construction for Double Track NWI could begin as early as 2019.

SSL Files Rating Applications For West Lake Corridor And NWI-Double Track Projects

CHESTERTON, Indiana September 8, 2017 The Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District (NICTD), operator of the South Shore Line, today announced that they have filed applications with the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) seeking project ratings for both the West Lake Corridor and South Shore Line’s Double Track projects. This infrastructure investment package totals over $977 million and represents the single largest investment in commuter rail in the South Shore’s history. The investment will enhance safety, bring more convenient, frequent and reliable service, and quicker travel times to and from Chicago and equally important set the stage for major economic development around the stations.

According to Mike Noland, South Shore Line President, “this is an exciting day and a key milestone in seeking federal funding. We are requesting that 50% of the project funding be covered by the federal government with the balance covered by a combination of already committed state and local funds. The FTA will now evaluate and rate our projects as we continue to wrap-up the environmental work for both West Lake and Double Track. We expect to hear the results of this rating process sometime in early February 2018 as the Administration prepares its 2019 budget.”

“We would like to acknowledge the incredible level of robust support that both projects have received from communities throughout our 4-county service area, and especially those directly served by the South Shore; and all the communities in Lake County who chose to participate in West Lake funding.” Noland went on to highlight the critical participation of the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority in completing the funding package and the steadfast bi-partisan support of Governor Holcomb, the Indiana General Assembly, our Congressional delegation led by Senators Joe Donnelly and Todd Young, and Representatives Pete Visclosky and Jackie Walorski.