The president and general manager of the South Shore Line in northwest Indiana says the Double Track project for the rail line will unlock the potential to access the Chicago market after decades of planning. Last month, the final contracts for the nearly $500 million project were approved, putting the effort on pace for completion in 2024. “Now, we can make our train times so much quicker to and from Chicago,” said Mike Noland. “And when that happens, it means opportunities for people to come over here and take advantage of the great things northwest Indiana has.”

Noland discussed the double track project, as well as the West Lake Corridor extension in an interview on Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick.

The Double Track project will add a second rail track parallel to the existing track between Gary and Michigan City, as well as improvements to passenger stations and expanded parking areas, among other enhancements.

“Right now, what we have in this corridor between Gary and Michigan City is essentially a railroad that runs two-way traffic on a two-way street,” said Noland. “By having two tracks, we can move trains back and forth and we can run express service. We can manage around delays. It can really open up opportunities to add additional trains that we can’t today because of the lack of infrastructure that’s on the system.”

The $900 million West Lake Corridor Extension will provide commuter train service from Hammond, Dyer, and Munster to downtown Chicago. Noland says the project will bring major economic benefits to the region.

“By opening up and developing this new train line in Lake County, we really open up opportunities to get the higher paying jobs in Chicago and then come back and spend that higher dollar in northwest Indiana. It really is an opportunity for our community and for our residents,” he said.

Noland says once the funding was secured for the projects, the area started seeing “tremendous” private sector development.

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