Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District (NICTD) held a virtual groundbreaking ceremony for its West Lake Corridor Project, extending the South Shore Line commuter rail service 7.8 miles from Hammond (on the north) to Dyer (on the south).
Slated for completion in 2024, the extension will include four new stations—two in Hammond, one in Munster, and one at the border of Muster and Dyer (see map below). NICTD awarded a nearly $555 million contract to F.H. Paschen and Ragnar Benson (both based in Chicago) this month to complete design work and lead construction.
A $354.6 million grant from the Federal Transit Administration Capital Investment Grants (CIG) Program, announced at the ceremony, will go toward the project, which is expected to total $944.9 million. The state has committed nearly $255 million to the project, and local municipalities and the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority, more than $335 million.
“Receipt of this [Full-Funding Grant Agreement] for West Lake is the culmination of the incredible vision and leadership that so many in this area exhibited for the past three decades,” said NICTD/SSL President Mike Noland. “We look forward to our opening day of service in the spring of 2025, if not sooner.”
“FTA is proud to join our partners in northern Indiana to improve public transportation and support economic recovery,” FTA Deputy Administrator K. Jane Williams said. “Commuters on the South Shore Line can now look forward to faster and more efficient transit service connecting them to major employers in Chicago, enhancing opportunities for Lake County residents while encouraging economic development locally.”
In November 2019, NICTD received an Outstanding Achievement Award for Excellence in Environmental Document Preparation from the FTA for its environmental documentation of the West Lake Corridor project.
In related news, earlier this year, NICTD received a $50.6 million CIG grant for its Gary Double Track Northwest Indiana Project, which adds a 26.6-mile second track on the South Shore Line between Gary and Michigan City.
Also, NICTD/SSL President and Commuter Rail Coalition Vice Chairman Mike Noland spoke with Railway Age Editor-in-Chief William C. Vantuono in recent Rail Group On Air Podcast. They discussed system capacity enhancements, expansion programs, bipartisan support for NICTD, COVID-19 safety, PTC deployment and the symbiotic relationship between the South Shore commuter rail and freight operators.