SOUTH BEND - South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg says plans to relocate the city's current South Shore Line location at the South Bend International Airport need "a sense of direction." A study released in April suggests a potential downtown location would cost over $100 million -- the most of any of the five proposed sites -- but would have the highest upside in terms of economic impact. The move is part of a long-term series of efforts aimed at reducing commute times on the rail route between South Bend and Chicago to 90 minutes and boosting commerce and travel through double-tracking and improving the SSL in northwest parts of the state.

Buttigieg tells Inside INdiana Business a downtown station is "the most promising option." He adds "there are possibilities at the airport. The airport's asked us to keep an airport option in the mix and it would certainly make sense to continue researching what would happen if some of the opportunities they see for freight service begin to materialize. Any number of things could happen that might change the answer, but it's time to have a sense of direction and we think that downtown is the most exciting of the possibilities that's been proposed."

The city has already approved $25 million to help cover costs associated with the relocation. The South Bend Tribune reports Buttigieg says the additional funding it would take for a downtown location could come from other, yet-to-be-determined sources such as federal or state funding.

The next steps include commissioning a study to investigate the engineering and design aspects of the downtown option, which Buttigieg says could begin in the coming weeks and could take about nine months to complete. A new station is a "once-in-a-generation" opportunity, said Buttigieg, and "downtown is the most exciting of the possibilities that's been put forward."