Northwest Indiana’s service to Chicago significantly enhanced with completion of $650 million rail project

Indiana officials are celebrating the opening of a newly upgraded passenger rail corridor that is anticipated to greatly decrease travel time from Michigan City to Chicago. The $650 million project is now complete and promises to provide a more efficient and convenient transportation option for residents and visitors alike.

The Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District’s South Shore Line project has successfully doubled portions of its track. In order to achieve this, workers have laid down approximately 18 miles of new track along the 26-mile corridor. Additionally, they have implemented various enhancements to improve safety and convenience for commuters.

In a statement released by Governor Eric Holcomb’s office, it was announced that the rail expansion project was completed within the designated timeframe and below the allocated budget. Governor Holcomb emphasized that this investment in Indiana’s rail infrastructure will yield long-term benefits for the state, even a century down the line.

According to him, this groundbreaking initiative is just one of the many ways Indiana is strategically investing to attract skilled individuals and business investments. These efforts are ultimately helping communities elevate themselves to new heights.

Starting on Tuesday, commuters heading to Millennium Station in the third-largest city in the country will experience significant reductions in their travel times. Previously, the trip from Michigan City to Chicago used to take approximately 101 minutes. However, with the completion of the double track project, commuters can now expect a reduced travel time of 83 minutes during peak hours and just 72 minutes for express routes. This improvement is expected to greatly enhance the efficiency and convenience of the commute for passengers.

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The journey from Gary to Chicago previously lasted 69 minutes, but with the new express service, it will be 20 minutes quicker. Passengers can still expect to reach Millennium Station in 53 minutes during peak service.

The project went beyond just adding extra rail lines. It included the realignment of tracks to get rid of 20 at-grade crossings. In addition, more than 1,400 parking spaces were added, along with new platforms for passengers to board and depart. The project also introduced 14 additional trains, providing weekday service in Northwestern Indiana.

Michael Noland, the president of the South Shore Line, expressed his excitement about the recent improvements made to the commuter rail service. He highlighted the addition of a new track, high-speed crossovers, and high-level boarding platforms, which will greatly enhance the overall experience for riders. Noland emphasized that these enhancements will result in improved train frequency, better on-time performance, and significantly reduced travel times to and from Chicago.

According to the project’s website, a significant portion of the project’s cost, 70% to be exact, was covered by state and local governments. Indiana allocated $340 million towards the project, while Northwestern Indiana communities contributed an additional $80 million. The Commuter Transportation District agreed to provide up to $30 million in funding. The remaining amount was secured through federal support, with $173 million coming from the Federal Transit Administration’s New Starts program and the rest, $24 million, being contributed by the American Rescue Plan Act.

The Double Track project represents one of the two significant rail improvements in the region. The other project, known as the West Lake Corridor, is a $950 million initiative that will extend an 8-mile spur from Hammond to Dyer in Lake County. Governor Holcomb mentioned that the construction for the West Lake Corridor project is projected to be completed within a year.

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The completion of these two rail projects is projected to have a significant impact on the region. It is anticipated that they will attract over $2.7 billion in private investments, create 6,000 new jobs, and generate $5 billion in economic activity over the next 25 years.

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