In Michigan City, Governor Eric Holcomb Monday joined federal, state and local officials to announce construction is moving forward on one of the largest public transit investments in Indiana’s history – double tracking of the South Shore Line from Michigan City to Gary. The project adds nearly 18 miles of new track over a 26-mile corridor along the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District’s (NICTD) existing South Shore Line between Gary and Michigan City and makes multiple improvements to the existing line, officials said.
“The Double Track Project is transformative for Northwest Indiana and the positive impacts will be felt across the state for generations to come,” said Holcomb. “This game changing project is another prime example of how Indiana is laser-focused on connecting people and businesses to our state’s exceptional quality of life, great communities, and pro-growth business environment.”
The Double Track Project includes 18 miles of new double track territory including a separated two-track right-of-way along two miles in Michigan City. The project will include replacing the current street-running tracks on 10th and 11th Streets, a new overhead contact system, 22 at-grade crossings, 20 culverts, platform upgrades at five stations and more than 1,400 parking spaces. The project will increase train frequency and drastically reduce travel time on the South Shore Line. Once the project is complete, service is planned to operate every 16 minutes during weekday peak periods and approximately every 75 minutes during weekday off-peak periods and evenings. Officials also say the project will improve safety along the entire alignment, especially in Michigan City, where the new alignment will remove the street-running tracks, eliminate 20 at-grade crossings, and provide a safer environment for passengers boarding trains.
Construction is expected to finish in early 2024 with passenger service starting later in the year.
In addition to the Double Track project, Holcomb has made the West Lake Corridor extension of the South Shore Line a Next Level Agenda priority. Combined, the Double Track and West Lake Corridor projects are projected to attract approximately $2.7 billion in private investment to Northwest Indiana, and result in over 6,000 new jobs and $5 billion in economic impact by 2048.
Federal, state, regional and local officials joined Holcomb Monday to officially break ground on the Double Track project. The nearly $650 million project is funded through a mix of federal, state and local dollars with $173 million in federal funding coming from the Federal Transit Administration’s Capital Investment Grants program and another $24 million coming from the American Rescue Program.
“The NICTD Double Track Project is an example of planning and building for the future, today,” said Kelley Brookins, Region V FTA Administrator. “The economic value of transit to American families, particularly now that gas is so expensive and to businesses who will see more consumers and employees using transit cannot be understated. What you are doing here is just the sort of transformative thinking President Biden and Secretary Buttigieg envision. Expand the South Shore Line — a project that improves access, expands opportunity, and creates jobs — is one very important part of this expansion.”
Gov. Holcomb, Indiana’s Congressional delegation, members of the Indiana General Assembly, the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority and local elected leaders worked with NICTD to provide funding and leadership for the project. The state has committed more than $340 million, locals have partnered to commit more than $80 million and NICTD has committed up to $30 million.
“Today’s groundbreaking is the product of years of hard work to make the South Shore Line Double Track Project a reality. This game-changing infrastructure priority will benefit Hoosiers in Northwest Indiana for years to come, with an expected economic impact of $5 billion by 2048 and the creation of more than 6,000 new jobs. Thank you to NICTD, Governor Holcomb, Congressman Visclosky, and the countless community leaders who played a role in helping us reach this pivotal moment,” said Senator Todd Young.
“I thank Gov. Holcomb and every official and person who has made this day possible. I would stress though that our work is not done,” said retired Congressman Pete Visclosky, current chairman of the Gary/Chicago International Airport. “Now we must make every effort to ensure that the development potential of the South Shore Rail Line is maximized in an economically and socially positive fashion. We must also begin today the necessary work to further expand the South Shore Rail Line southeast to Valparaiso and further south in Lake County.”
“The South Shore Double Track project will advance transportation across Northern Indiana, improving efficiency, strengthening safety, and boosting economic development in the South Bend region,” said Representative Jackie Walorski. “Today’s groundbreaking is a huge milestone in bringing this vital project another step closer to the finish line. I’m thrilled to join Senators Young and Braun, Governor Holcomb, and other local, state, and federal officials in celebrating this progress and working together to advance innovative solutions that will strengthen our communities.”
“Thank you to Governor Holcomb, the Indiana General Assembly, NICTD, and my predecessor Congressman Pete Visclosky, for their tireless advocacy and relentless pursuit to bring this project to fruition,” said Representative Frank Mrvan. “This transformational achievement will reduce travel times, increase train frequency, improve public safety, and promote economic development in our industrial corridor. I look forward to seeing how this success will be enjoyed by all individuals and families who will use the improved passenger rail to recreate and work throughout the Chicagoland area and South Bend.”
“Double tracking the South Shore Line unlocks the true potential of this railroad and opens up vastly improved commuter rail service from northwest Indiana to Chicago and back,” said Michael Noland, president of the South Shore Line. “Reliability, more frequent service options, reduced time to market and safety enhancements are vital to the long-term success and will result in tremendous economic growth. We can’t thank our partners at the FTA enough as they have been with us at every step of this process. And profound gratitude to Governor Holcomb and our local, state and federal delegation for their support and leadership to get us to this great day.”
“After more than six years of effort, both the Double Track project and West Lake Corridor, a brand new eight-mile extension of the South Shore line running from Hammond to Dyer along the Indiana-Illinois state line, have been fully funded with a combination of local, state and federal dollars,” said Sherri Ziller, president and CEO of the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority. “The expansion will give Hoosiers the chance to compete for higher paying jobs in Chicago and is expected to attract more than 11,000 new residents and create thousands of jobs throughout the region. This is the largest economic development project in the State’s history and an unmatched opportunity for Northwest Indiana.”