Senator Todd Young (R-IN) calls the $900 million South Shore rail expansion projects "the best bang for the buck" Indiana could hope for in terms of federal funding for infrastructure projects. Young says, since President Trump’s proposed budget would eliminate the funding stream that local officials were planning on, he is working with stakeholders including Congressman Pete Visclosky (D-1) and Jackie Walorski (R-2) as well as Senator Joe Donnelly (D-IN) to find alternative funding.
During a Studio(i) interview, Young said the double-tracking project would tie northwest Indiana to Chicago and "catalyze a private sector stimulus."
The projects would include extending the existing corridor south to Dyer and double-tracking the line between Gary and Michigan City. There is also a proposal to relocate part of the line in South Bend to improve access at the South Bend International Airport and make the trip to and from Chicago shorter. In July, the St. Joseph County Council unanimously approved more than $18 million for the double-tracking project. The city of South Bend has approved $25 million for the project. LaPorte, Porter and Lake counties have also committed funding for the work.
The double-tracking project would involve construction of more than 25 miles of track that could begin in 2019.
Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority Chief Executive Officer Bill Hanna believes there is "excellent progress" on talks for funding, citing a recent visit to South Bend from U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao and discussions between Governor Eric Holcomb and Vice President Mike Pence as well as a short conversation between Young and president Trump.