The West Lake Corridor Project, which would extend the South Shore Line eight miles and provide new rail service to Hammond, Munster and Dyer, has cleared another hurdle.
The Federal Transit Administration recently gave the project a medium-high rating, according to the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority. The rating was needed for the West Lake Corridor Project to be considered for federal matching funds.
The RDA said the next step for the project is for a request entry into the engineering phase, which the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District, operator of the South Shore Line, is expected to do in the next 45 to 90 days. That will be followed by negotiating a full funding grant agreement with the FTA.
The new branch of the West Lake Corridor Project would connect with the existing South Shore Line in north Hammond and ultimately with the Metra Electric District line, with a final stop at Millennium Station in downtown Chicago.
Combined, West Lake and the double tracking proposal are projected to attract approximately $2.3 billion in private investment to Northwest Indiana, and result in an estimated 5,700 new jobs and $3 billion in economic impact by 2048, according to project supporters.
The double tracking proposal calls for improvements to the South Shore Line traveling approximately 25 miles through Lake, Porter and La Porte counties, and the communities of Gary, Portage, Ogden Dunes, Dune Acres, Beverly Shores, Pines and Michigan City. The project’s main component is to add a second track to the single-track route and move the street-running tracks along 10th and 11th Streets in Michigan City.
Double tracking will allow the South Shore Line to add trains for more frequent service, reduce delays and improve travel times.