CHICAGO -- Indiana officials say a 90-year-old plan to speed travel times, add trains and attract more passengers on the South Shore railroad could finally happen.
The state, along with northwest Indiana counties and municipalities, have pledged half the money for the nearly $1 billion project, which includes a double track from Gary to Michigan City and a line extension from Hammond to Dyer, the Chicago Tribune reported. It'll also improve stations along the line and add new stations.
Indiana officials are seeking federal grants to pay for the rest. They said they're optimistic the grants will come through next year because of the project's bipartisan support, including from Vice President Mike Pence, a former governor.
Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority Chief Executive William Hanna said the approval is an example of what can happen if a transit project is touted as a key to jobs and growth instead of just an environmentally friendly thing to do.
"You had the General Assembly looking at this from the viewpoint of economic development and not a transit ask," Hanna said.
The development authority commissioned a KPMG study, which predicts the project will bring in about $2.5 billion in private sector investments.
Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District President Michael Noland said the second track will cut the travel time from Michigan City, Indiana, to downtown Chicago from about 95 minutes to just more than an hour. The trip from South Bend, Indiana, to Chicago would be cut from two and a half hours to 90 minutes.
Information from: Chicago Tribune, http://www.chicagotribune.com