FTA Signs FFGAs for NICTD, Phoenix Metro Projects

Written by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor
Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District is adding a 26.6-mile second track to its South Shore commuter rail line between Gary and Michigan City, Ind., to reduce rider travel times.

Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District is adding a 26.6-mile second track to its South Shore commuter rail line between Gary and Michigan City, Ind., to reduce rider travel times.

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has signed Full Funding Grant Agreements (FFGAs) for Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District’s (NICTD) Double Track Northwest Indiana Project and for Valley Metro’s South Central Light Rail Extension/Downtown Hub Project in Phoenix.

The finalized agreements for the NICTD and Valley Metro projects are for $173 million and $529.8 million, respectively, under FTA’s Capital Investment Grants (CIG) program.

The $491 million NICTD project will add a 26.6-mile second track to its South Shore commuter rail line between Gary and Michigan City, Ind. It also includes improvements at five stations with nine new platforms, as well as parking lot expansions. Additionally, 21 at-grade crossings will be closed in Michigan City.

The state of Indiana has committed nearly $200 million to the work, which is expected to be complete in 2024; localities have partnered to commit nearly $120 million.

“Reduced travel time and more frequent service options have been top priorities for those who rely on South Shore Line service,” said Mike Noland, President of NICTD/South Shore Line. “They, along with important safety enhancements, are vital to the long-term success of commuter rail operations from South Bend to Chicago.” The FFGA, he noted in the announcement Jan. 7, “clearly establishes that our partners at the FTA fully share in our region’s priorities and economic future. Our profound gratitude to Governor Holcomb for his unwavering leadership to get us to this great day, along with our entire congressional delegation, leadership in the General Assembly, our local elected officials in our four county service area, community stakeholders and loyal South Shore Line riders for this tremendous team effort.”

Noland was featured in an August 2020 Rail Group On Air podcast as part of an ongoing Railway Age/Commuter Rail Coalition series.

NICTD held a virtual groundbreaking ceremony in October 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).

Valley Metro is extending its light rail system 5.5. miles from downtown Phoenix to South Mountain Village.

Valley Metro’s $1.35 billion South Central Light Rail Extension/Downtown Hub Project will extend the system 5.5 miles from downtown Phoenix to the South Mountain Village core via Central Avenue and 1st Avenue; include eight new stations; and expand the existing Operations and Maintenance Center. It will connect riders to Arizona State University (downtown and main campuses) and the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.

The FFGA from FTA constitutes nearly 40% of the total cost of the work, which is slated for completion in late 2023. The balance—about $815 million—will come from the Federal Highway Administration, Surface Transportation Block Grants, City of Phoenix Proposition 104 sales tax revenues, and Maricopa County Proposition 400 Public Transportation Excise Tax revenues.

In October, Valley Metro awarded Siemens Mobility a contract for 14 additional S700 light rail vehicles, primarily for the South Central Extension/Downtown Hub. Work is also under way on its Northwest Extension Phase II.

FTA’s CIG program provides funding for transit infrastructure projects; those accepted go through a multi-year, multi-step process to receive program funds.

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