Chesterton Tribune



New NICTD board hears updates on West Lake, double tracking projects

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With 30 percent of the design of the West Lake Corridor project completed, the Board of Trustees of the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District is set to move to the next phase: retaining an engineering firm to design the balance and then to build it.

At the newly restructured board’s first meeting on Monday, members voted unanimously to approve a short list of three proposers as well as to release to those firms a request for proposals.

The proposers: F.H. Paschen-Ragnar Benson Joint Venture; Walsh-Herzog Joint Venture; and Kiewit Infrastructure Company.

Proposals are due in December, with the board likely to be in a position in February 2020 to make its choice of firm. A notice to design/build could be issued to the firm in May 2020; substantial completion of the project could be effected by December 2023; and full revenue service and operation by March 2024 (or February 2025 under a contingency schedule).

Agreements are currently being developed with three other railroads in the project area, as well as with the communities which the West Lake Corridor will serve: Hammond, Munster, and Dyer.

Meanwhile, right-of-way acquisition is also underway. A total of 264 acquisitions will be necessary, with 70 homes and 30 renters expected to be affected. Purchases should begin in August, with all acquisitions completed by December 2020.

In addition, 32 rail cars will need to be rebuilt in order to serve the West Lake Corridor, each of them requiring some 4,500 man-hours of labor. That work will all be done in-house.

Total project cost: $933 million, including financing, construction, and right-of-way acquisitions.

Double-tracking Project

The double-tracking project, on the other hand--in which a second set of tracks will be installed between Michigan City and Gary, with the idea of making the line run more efficiently--is not quite as far along as the West Lake Corridor project.

Members did vote unanimously to retain the services of AECOM for final engineering and HDR for project management services.

They also approved four new change orders in the preliminary engineering of the project, at an additional cost of $843,116. The prior board already approved 14 previous change orders, at an additional cost of $1,159,958.

The project is just now beginning the “entry into engineering” phase, with the “full funding grant approval” phase--if all goes well--expected in March 2021. Construction could be complete by May 2022 and revenue service operation in 2023 (2024 under a contingency schedule).

Total project cost: $456 million.

Amended Governance Agreement

Members also voted unanimously to approve an amended and restated governance agreement with the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority and the Indiana Finance Authority, necessitated after the Federal Transit Administration indicated that the level of federal funding for the West Lake Corridor and double-tracking projects may be less than originally anticipated.

The amended agreement reflects the $185 million in additional funding provided by the state in legislation enacted earlier this year, along with $20 million in potential contingency funding.

The RDA and IFA both approved the amended agreements last week.



Posted 6/25/2019




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