Governor Eric Holcomb says the $649 million South Shore Double Track project will be a “ginormous magnet” for growth in northwest Indiana. Federal, state and local officials broke ground this morning on the project, which will add 18 miles of new track on the South Shore Line between Michigan City and Gary. The additional track is expected to reduce travel time between Michigan City and Millennium Park in Chicago by 33 minutes.
Speaking with reporters after the groundbreaking, Holcomb said the project will be a boon for local governments in the region.
“It allows local officials all along this corridor to plan for that growth and gives them the ability to not just define, but usher in their own destiny,” said Holcomb. “The excitement that this has generated because it’s a reality now – it’s just not a blueprint or a lofty goal – there is skin in the game [at the] local, state and federal levels all to see this come to not just fruition but into reality.”
In addition to the new track, the project will add four bridges and eight new platforms, a new overhead contact system, and more than 1,400 parking spaces, as well as removing street-running tracks and eliminating 20 at-grade crossings.
The project is being funded by $197 million in federal funding from the Federal Transit Administration and the American Rescue Program. The remaining funds include $340 million in state funding, $80 million in local funding, and up to $30 million from the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District, which manages the South Shore Line.
“Double tracking the South Shore Line unlocks the true potential of this railroad and opens up vastly improved commuter rail service from northwest Indiana to Chicago and back,” Michael Noland, president of the South Shore Line, said in written remarks. “Reliability, more frequent service options, reduced time to market and safety enhancements are vital to the long-term success and will result in tremendous economic growth.”
Governor Holcomb’s office says the project, combined with the West Lake Corridor extension of the South Shore Line, is project to generate some $2.7 billion in private investment to northwest Indiana, and create more than 6,000 jobs and $5 billion in economic impact by 2048.
The West Lake extension is a $945 million project that will extend the South Shore Line south from Hammond to Dyer. Work on the project is underway and expected to be complete by 2025.
Holcomb calls the effort “Hoosier history being made right before our very eyes.”
“For the northwest quadrant of our state to be located next to the third-largest economy in our country and to be craving more talent and new Hoosiers, this is the biggest project we’ve seen in more than my generation,” Holcomb said. “To add to that equation, the investments that we’re making in broadband internet, in trails, in roads, in airports and in our water ports, all those pieces of the puzzle snap together to make us no longer just the Crossroads America; we’re truly the epicenter of where commerce and residential business can not just meet expectations but exceed them.”
Construction on the Double Track project is expected to be complete in early 2024 with passenger serve starting later that year. Once operational, the service will operate every 16 minutes during weekday peak periods and approximately every 75 minutes during weekday off-peak periods and evenings.