As we work toward expanding commuter rail service in the region, the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority is committed to ensuring communities around the South Shore line have a voice in the development coming to their neighborhoods. To that end the RDA recently hosted a number of community leaders and the press on a bus tour of likely West Lake station sites in Hammond, Munster and Dyer.
While the West Lake Corridor Project is certainly one of the biggest undertakings in Northwest Indiana and still has many steps to go to come fruition, the RDA's Bill Hanna told IIMM that these types of challenges are exactly why the RDA exists.
"When the RDA was put together, it was not just to do a series of projects," Hanna said. "We were put together to transform Northwest Indiana."
And transforming Northwest Indiana and its future, says South Shore Line's Michael Noland, is all about connecting Chicago and The Region.
"Expanding economic opportunities for Northwest Indiana is directly linked to enhancing access to Chicago," stated Noland. "This project provides that unique opportunity."
Construction of the West Lake Corridor, along with double-tracking the existing South Shore line from Gary to Michigan City, will support approximately 2,000 construction jobs during the construction period from 2018 to 2022. And together, these to improvements to the South Shore system are projected to create about 5,700 permanent jobs in Lake and Porter counties by 2046. Transit-oriented development (TOD) at and near the stations is projected to generate an additional $435 million in local property tax revenues for Hammond, Munster, Dyer, East Chicago, Gary, Miller, Ogden Dunes and Portage from 2018 to 2039. More information about the benefits of these two projects can be found in the RDA's Comprehensive Strategic Plan. You can download the executive summary here.