U.S. Congressman Pete Visclosky announced this week that the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has given the West Lake Corridor (WLC) extension of the South Shore Line (SSL) expansion the green light to move into the project development phase.
“I am excited to learn that the FTA has recognized the value of the South Shore expansion through this designation. It is another successful step forward to not just expand South Shore service, but to build a regional economy that provides innumerable benefits for current Northwest Indiana residents and future generations,” Congressman Visclosky said.
The SSL link connects Northwest Indiana to Chicago and Cook County, Illinois. The Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District (NICTD) suggests that the WLC project would be a southern branch extension of the SSL to serve growing areas in Lake County, Indiana. NICTD says the project is meant to expand the system’s service coverage, improve accessibility for passengers and stimulate Lake County’s economy.
Congressman Visclosky added that he has “ no doubt” that the project’s success is resultant of the resilient efforts of the NICTD and the RDA, as well as the state of Indiana and its contributing communities.
“Their collective support has generated this outstanding forward momentum. I will continue to work very hard to support the efforts to have commuter trains running on the new expanded track as soon as possible,” Congressman Visclosky said.
Michael Noland, President of NICTD, said, “This is great news. We have been working closely with the congressman’s office, the FTA and communities that would be served by the West Lake Corridor and look forward to advancing the project through the environmental and preliminary engineering process. Improving access to jobs by making commuter rail service faster and more convenient will lay the groundwork for new private development throughout the region.”
Bill Hanna, president and CEO of the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority (NIRDA), said, “This is a key step toward completion of the West Lake expansion of the South Shore line. We are now closer than ever before to the largest commuter rail investment in Indiana history—an investment that will create thousands of jobs in Northwest Indiana and provide world-class access to Chicago, the ninth-largest economy on the planet.
Hanna added that members of the NIRDA are grateful for Congressman Visclosky’s support, as well as that of the state of Indiana and the NICTD, and he looks forward to continuing to collaborate through the completion of the new line.
The project aims to:
- Serve high-growth areas in central, southern and western Lake County
- More efficiently connect Northwest Indiana residents to downtown Chicago jobs and other attractions
- Establish a reliable modal alternative to driving between the two metropolitan regions
- Lower commuting travel times and costs
- Boost NICTD system ridership
- Create jobs in Northwest Indiana
- Provide a valued transportation mode for all Northwest Indiana residents
Additional information regarding the FTA grant process can be found here.