A project to double-track Indiana’s South Shore Line got a “green” light following federal environmental approvals for the commuter rail route.
The Federal Transit Administration on Nov. 8 signed off on the Environmental Analysis with a Finding of No Significant Impact, known as FONSI, for the plan by the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District (NICTD) to add a second track and other upgrades between Gary and Michigan City, Ind. It determined “there are no significant impacts on the environment associated with the development and operation of the proposed project.”
“The team at NICTD has worked hard to minimize the project’s impact on the natural and human environment for the past two years,” South Shore Line President Michael Noland said. “We are thrilled to reach this critically important milestone and advance the project in the Capital Investment Grant process with the FTA.”
Half of the more than $300 million engineering and construction cost of the project would come from the grant.
The plan to increase track capacity and train speeds would add a second track between Virginia Street in Gary and East Michigan Boulevard in Michigan City by connecting sidings; realign street trackage along 10th and 11th streets in Michigan City, and close 21 grade crossings. It would also enhance the Gary/Miller, Portage/Ogden Dunes, Dune Park, Beverly Shores and 11th Street stations.
After a series of negotiations, the project includes access for freight rail operations by short line Chicago South Shore & South Bend Railroad around Northern Indiana Public Service Company’s
Bailly Generating Station, where the CSS&SB serves customer ArcelorMittal.
Indiana has committed $6 million annually to each project for 30 years.