Visclosky, Donnelly, Young Push South Shore Projects

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(Image courtesy of NICTD.) (Image courtesy of NICTD.)
WASHINGTON, D.C. -

U.S. Senators Joe Donnelly (D-IN) and Todd Young (R-IN) and Congressman Pete Visclosky (D-1) are urging the Federal Transit Administration to move quickly on its consideration and support of the proposed West Lake Expansion Project and double-tracking of the South Shore commuter rail line. The trio wrote a letter to Acting Administrator Jane Williams that was included in the Northern Indiana Commuter Transit District's request to enter a key phase of the federal funding process.

Officials are seeking to be included in the New Starts Engineering phase of the Capital Investment Grant program. The elected officials say the project shows how the local community's support is maximizing return on investment from the private sector. Officials in Indiana estimate the West Lake and double tracking projects could draw some $2.3 billion in private investment and create 5,700 jobs by 2048.

In 2016, the state approved $180 million for the West Lake Expansion portion of the project. The work involves double-tracking the northwest Indiana-to-Chicago route and extending it south from Hammond to Dyer. In total, the expansion and double-tracking of this section of the route is expected to cost around $1 billion.

In a press release issued earlier this week, NICTD Chief Executive Officer Michael Noland said he hopes for a decision on the capital grant program next year.

The senators and congressman release statements that said:

  • "The South Shore West Lake expansion project is important for both jobs and infrastructure development in Northwest Indiana. I am delighted this project progressed to this critical juncture in FTA's review process and look forward to continuing my steadfast advocacy for this crucial transit project alongside Governor Holcomb, Representative Visclosky, Senator Donnelly, the RDA, and NICTD." -Senator Young
  • "The South Shore West Lake expansion will be a great improvement for the region's infrastructure, creating new transportation options for residents and supporting continued economic growth. I was proud to join my colleagues Senator Young and Representative Visclosky, as well as Governor Holcomb, NICTD, and RDA on this effort. It is important the Federal Transit Administration follows the requirements Congress has established for this program and reviews this application in a timely manner so we can get this important project moving forward." -Senator Donnelly
  • "This is the next step in the journey of creating new jobs and economic activity in Northwest Indiana. We would not be able to do this without the steadfast support of NICTD, the RDA, Governor Holcomb, Sen. Donnelly, Sen. Young, the members of our state delegation, and our participating local officials. I am grateful for all of their leadership and believe that because of our bipartisan and collective efforts, we are paving the way for future transit and private investments in our region." -Congressman Visclosky

The letter reads:

Dear Administrator Williams,

We write today to express our continued support for the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District’s (NICTD) proposed West Lake Corridor Project.

We thank you and your dedicated staff for the leadership and direction provided to NICTD as they worked to produce an application that satisfies the agency’s financial and technical requirements. 

It is our understanding that the application demonstrates the project’s forecasted economic impact as well as its financial capacity, including the requirement that one hundred percent of the nonfederal funding is dedicated with no further action needed by local and state entities. We remain confident that this project will serve our nation as a model to show how support from local communities and federal transportation infrastructure programs can maximize the return of private sector economic investments from taxpayer dollars. 

We ask that the submitted request be considered as expeditiously as possible, per the direction prescribed under applicable laws and regulations, and that the rating be swiftly determined in order to allow the project to progress from the Capital Investment Grant program’s Project Development Phase and into the Engineering Phase.  

Again, thank you for your commitment to assisting Hoosier stakeholders successfully interface with the Capital Investment Grant program.  If we may be of any assistance to you, please do not hesitate to contact us directly.

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