RDA hits commuter rail expansion milestone in 2019, hopes to have shovels in ground of 2020

RDA hits commuter rail expansion milestone in 2019, hopes to have shovels in ground of 2020
By: Sergio Valdes Last Updated: January 20, 2020

The Northwest Indiana region is a breeding ground for economic growth and career potential, and its close proximity to Chicago opens the door for many opportunities. For the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority (RDA), this is a chance to do something worthwhile for the people.

Created in 2006 by the Indiana General Assembly, the RDA helps to fund large infrastructure projects in the Region. The RDA has four primary goals: 1) redevelop the Lake Michigan shoreline in accordance with the Marquette Plan; 2) expand the Gary/Chicago International Airport; 3) develop and support regional passenger rail and bus transportation; and 4) enhance economic development overall in the NWI area.

In 2019, the RDA hit a milestone with the commuter rail expansion West Lake Corridor project, receiving approval from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to “enter into engineering,” which is when the project’s remaining engineering plans and blueprints are set into motion. The West Lake Corridor is an all-new 8-mile track that will start in Hammond and extend south of the border of Munster and Dyer, which will be running trains into and out of Millennium Station in downtown Chicago. Entering the engineering phase is also important because the process finally becomes eligible for federal reimbursement.

“It’s a transformative project for the Region,” said Dave Wellman, RDA Communications Manager. “It helps to resolve one of the big challenges the Region faces in terms of economic growth and stabilizing our population. Suffice it to say, we’re talking thousands of new jobs and billions of dollars in private investment for Northwest Indiana over the next twenty years.”

For 2020, the RDA hopes to get the remaining plans done and be able to put shovels into the ground. The next step after the “enter into engineering” phase is to enter into negotiations with the FTA on a full-funding grant agreement.

Overall, this project will have a massive generational impact on not just the Region, but Indiana itself. It will expand the options for both NWI and Chicago residents with quick and easy access to careers in one of the largest metropolitan areas on the planet.

“All of the development that we’re doing is going to be guided by what the communities want to see happen,” Wellman said. “We want to make sure development happens the way the people want it to look and feel. We ultimately want to make the people happy.” To learn more about the RDA and their projects, please visit www.in.gov/rda/.