EAST CHICAGO - The South Shore Line West Lake Corridor is a step closer to up to $440 million in federal funding, thanks to a positive project rating from the Federal Transit Administration. The "medium-high" rating means the project, which involves the extension of the South Shore Line between Dyer and Hammond, is eligible for funding to cover a large portion of the more than $700 million project.

The rating came from the FTA's Fiscal Year 2020 Annual Report on Funding Recommendations for the Capital Investments Grants program. The organization ranks projects on a five-point scale including low, medium-low, medium, medium-high and high. A project must rate at least "medium" to be eligible for funding consideration.

Congressman Pete Visclosky says, with the rating, northwest Indiana's "economic future has been brightened."

“This action taken by the Federal Transit Administration is outstanding news for the Northwest Indiana economy and would not have happened without the steadfast support of Governor Holcomb, Sen. Young and our federal representatives, our state representatives, Lake County and the 14 participating towns and cities, and the leadership of the RDA and NICTD.  As the appropriations process moves forward for Fiscal Year 2020, I will continue to support full funding for the Capital Investment Grant Program.  I will also continue to aggressively advocate for the same success for the Double Track project.  Today, our economic future has been brightened.”

A spokesperson with the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority says the next step will be engaging with the FTA on a full funding grant agreement to try to secure a 50 percent federal match so crews can begin construction.