Chesterton Tribune



NICTD board okays final West Lake route

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The Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District’s Board of Directors has approved a final route for the West Lake extension.

At its meeting Friday morning, the board voted unanimously to adopt a route which will extend south from a new “Hammond Gateway” station--located just west of the current Hammond station--to a new South Hammond station, a new Munster Ridge Road station, and its terminus at a new Munster/Dyer Main Street station.

As part of the vote, the board also agreed to incorporate into the final route several changes from NICTD’s original plans, in response to public comment:

* The platform of the new South Hammond station will be moved further south in the direction of 173rd and the parking split, so that parking lots will be located on both the north and south sides of 173rd.

* The platform of the new Munster Ridge Road station will be moved to the northwest corner of Ridge Road and the railroad line, with parking moved to the north of Ridge Road and west of Manor Ave. “As a result, the homes previously slated for acquisition south of Ridge Road will no longer be required for the project,” NICTD said.

* The layover facility previously proposed for the Munster/Dyer Main Street station has been moved to Hammond. “The southeast corner of Main Street and the railroad line will still need to be acquired for the project but will include ADA parking, a Kiss-N-Ride facility, water detention, and a power substation,” NICTD said.

“I’m glad to see that we have listened and are talking action on what residents of the community wanted,” said Board Member Christine Cid, representing Lake County.

NICTD’s next step is to submit the West Lake extension to the Federal Transit Administration for a project rating. If the project is approved to proceed to the next phase--engineering--it will “await listing in the president’s budget in early 2018,” NICTD noted. “Under the current schedule, construction would begin in 2020 and end in 2022.”

HB 1144

Earlier in the meeting, two of the primary confreres on HB 1144--which establishes tax increment financing mechanisms for both the West Lake extension and NICTD’s double-tracking project between Michigan City and Gary--spoke on the legislation, which has been widely praised as a bipartisan boost for economic development in Northwest Indiana.

“Getting four different counties to agree that the sun comes up in the morning is hard to do,” joked Rep. Hal Slager, R-15th. “But we managed to get this done.”

“I think this is unambiguously positive for the region,” said Minority Leader Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City. “Everyone worked so well together, cordially, in a non-partisan fashion.”

Double-tracking, Pelath noted, “will cut down on time and get more people working in Chicago to live in the region.”

“It’s one thing to talk about ideas but another to build them into something tested and true,” said Bill Hanna, president and CEO of the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority.

“Politics were taken out of the equation but so was regionalism,” added Board Member Andrew Kostielney, representing St. Joseph County.





Posted 5/15/2017




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