PORTAGE - The U.S. Department of Transportation is recommending a nearly $10 million grant for the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor. The funding, which still requires Congressional approval, would cover half of a proposed $19.7 million infrastructure expansion at the Portage operation.

The project plans are extensive and the work, which officials say would boost cargo handling capacity and multimodal capabilities at the port, includes building a new, more than two-acre terminal to transfer cargo among ships, barges, rail cars and trucks. The existing rail network within the port would also be extended by 4.4 miles, two proposed rail yards would allow for storage of 165 rail cars and a new truck marshalling yard would consist of six acres. An additional 1,200-feet of dock space would also be created as a results of improvements to the operation's west dock.

Ports of Indiana Chief Executive Officer Rich Cooper says "these investments in Northwest Indiana will allow the Port of Indiana to increase its multimodal freight-handling capabilities to help meet anticipated future demand. Our port companies and stevedores will benefit tremendously with this significant new infrastructure investment that will enhance productivity and efficiency for those who rely on the port's water, rail and highway connections. Our Portage port is regarded as one of the premier ports on all of the Great Lakes because of our continued re-investments into the facility. This grant will permit us to further accelerate our investments to help attract new companies and new cargoes to the region."

The last three years has been the highest volume period in the port's nearly 50-year history.