Chesterton Tribune

Railway deal gives Gary airport expansion room

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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 economic growth.”

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.



Posted 3/27/2012