The St. Joseph County Council has unanimously approved more than $18 million in funding toward a plan that officials say would shave 50 minutes off train travel time between South Bend and Chicago. The funds would support a region-wide project to double-track the existing South Shore line between Gary and Michigan City.
Plans in South Bend also call for relocating the line at its current South Bend International Airport position. The city has also approved the contribution of $25 million toward the project. Federal funding, state funding and support from local communities including St. Joseph. LaPorte, Porter and Lake counties round out the projected $290 million needed to complete the work.
In a statement released prior to Tuesday night’s vote, South Bend Regional Chamber Chief Executive Officer Jeff Rea said "we believe 90 minutes can be a game-changer for our area, and is critical to our efforts to attract top talent to our region. As we seek to slow the outmigration of talent, a quick connection to one of the largest economies in the world and all of the arts, entertainment, cultural and job opportunities that exist there is key."
Construction would involve more than 25 miles of track and could begin in 2019. In addition to double-tracking, improvements are slated for stations along the way, including Gary/Miller, Portage/Ogden Dunes, Dune Park, Beverly Shores and 11th Street/Michigan City.