Representatives from the Gary Chicago International Airport, the Canadian
National Railway and the Regional Development Authority joined Gary Mayor
Karen Freeman-Wilson Monday to announce agreement to move CN tracks to make
way for a $166 million runway expansion project.
The Canadian National Railway tracks need to be moved because they sit on a
high embankment 130 feet from the end of the airport’s main runway. The
airport expansion plan calls for extending the 7,000-foot runway to 8,900
feet with safety areas at both ends.
The agreements provide for the transfer of land between the airport and CN
so that the railroad will have an easement for its new tracks and the
airport will own the land for the runway extension.
“I am extremely excited today,” said Mayor Freeman-Wilson. “We are one step
closer to the completion of the runway.” She commended several groups for
their diligence in getting the agreements signed, including CN, the Board of
Directors of the Gary Chicago International Airport, the RDA and the office
of Congressman Peter Visclosky. “This shows what happens when all parties
work together,” she said.
Maintaining Gary Chicago International Airport as a viable commercial
airport is fundamental to the future of Northwest Indiana, says Bill Hanna,
Executive Director of the RDA, which is funding $30 million of the projects
$166 million cost. “We see the Gary Chicago International Airport as a key
asset in the region,” he says. “A strong, busy airport will attract jobs and
investment, fuel further construction and development, and be an engine for
Interim airport director Steve Landry says completion of the expansion work
is expected by September 2013. Once the runway is extended, “it will allow
us to attract larger types of aircraft,” Landry said. “Without lengthening
the runway, it would be impossible for the airport to execute it strategic
plan to attract increased passenger service.”
Construction work on projects related to the runway expansion is already
underway. Currently, Landry says that 19 different contracts are being
worked on around the airport employing 17 Northwest Indiana contractors.