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Rail News: Passenger Rail

And the NICTD winner is … CN line to Valparaiso


Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District recently completed a Major Investment Study of two proposed expansion routes.

Both routes would begin in Chicago and incorporate the Monon Corridor from Hammond to 45th Avenue in Munster, Ind. From there, the first option would run on Canadian National Railway Co. lines to Valparaiso; the other would lead to Lowell on CSX Transportation lines.

The two choices are comparable as far as expected ridership, capital and operating costs, levels of highway congestion, access to jobs, land use and redevelopment, economic development, environmental impact, community impact and low-income areas served. In the end, NICTD officials determined the route from Chicago to Valparaiso offered the best balance between benefit and cost.

The study showed 2,900 additional commuters could gain access to Chicago jobs by 2020; 2,900 direct and 1,450 indirect jobs in northwest Indiana would be developed; and $139.8 million per year in direct spending would be generated, along with $12 million per year in real estate taxes.

Estimated capital costs necessary to operate commuter rail on the line total $250 million. Upgrades would include rolling stock, track work, signaling system, corridor electrification, stations, connecting track between Monon Corridor and the South Shore Line (operated by Chicago’s Metra), dual-mode locomotives, and Kensington Interlocking Modifications.

The next step is to obtain local funding. Most New Start Projects are funded 25 percent to 75 percent locally. In order to compete with other projects for federal New Start funds, NICTD is seeking 50 percent local matching funds. The project then would need to be incorporated into the region’s long-term transportation plan.

Finally, NICTD would submit a New Start Application to the Federal Transit Administration for review and ranking to obtain federal funds.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 9/7/2000