The Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority Board of Directors has approved a $20 million grant agreement for a major rail project. The deal unlocks previously-approved funds to cover costs related to the West Lake Corridor expansion of the South Shore commuter rail line.
The grant agreement was made Thursday with the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District, which operates the South Shore line. The $600 million West Lake Corridor project received approval in September from the Federal Transit Administration to move into the project development phase, which allows for environmental review and engineering work to begin.
The Westlake Corridor expansion would extend the South Shore line south from Hammond to Dyer. The $20 million approved by the RDA board will cover the project development phase work, which is expected to take 12 to 18 months to complete. The project will then move into the final approval phase.
The board also approved an agreement with the NICTD for a $1.6 million matching grant related to the South Shore double tracking project. The funds will go toward the $4 million cost of preliminary and engineering and environmental work.
The double tracking project will add a second full track to the South Shore line from Gary to Michigan City, which the NICTD says will greatly reduce commuting times two and from Chicago.