Hammond, Ind. — Indiana Governor Mike Pence joined representatives from Amtrak, the Federal Railroad Administration and Norfolk Southern to officially kick off the $71.4 million Indiana Gateway project to improve rail lines between Porter, Ind., and the Illinois state line. The Indiana Gateway project will improve seven locations on Norfolk Southern’s Chicago Line and one on the Amtrak Michigan Line. Norfolk Southern will install universal crossovers at five locations and construct a third mainline track at three locations.
“When it comes to the three guiding principles of Indiana infrastructure — taking care of what we have, finishing what we started, and planning for the future — the Indiana Gateway project is a triple threat that underscores the importance of a multi-modal transportation system capable of efficiently moving both people and freight,” said Governor Pence. “By reducing congestion where Lake Michigan funnels rail traffic east of Chicago and improving the flow of goods and people by rail, the Indiana Gateway has the potential to grow Northwest Indiana’s reputation as a manufacturing and distribution center and positively impact economic development in the Region.”
“Norfolk Southern prides itself on a tradition of partnering with other transportation providers, including Amtrak,” Jeff Harris, NS assistant vice president for operation planning, said. “The Indiana Gateway project provides important infrastructure improvements which, when completed, should allow for more efficient movement of passenger and freight trains through this vital rail corridor.”
Amtrak will build a new passing siding near the Porter Interlocking, where Norfolk Southern, Amtrak and two CSX lines intersect. The project will improve Amtrak passenger rail service for several routes that terminate in Michigan, Boston, New York and Washington, D.C.
“Fourteen daily Amtrak trains every day share these tracks with dozens of Norfolk Southern freight trains, all with time-sensitive customers,” said Michael Franke, Chief, Amtrak State Government Contracts. “The Indiana Gateway Project will improve some of the busiest tracks in the country, adding capacity and increasing the fluidity of all trains.”
With design nearing completion, construction hits full gear this spring and is expected to be completed in 2016.
“This project significantly strengthens the Midwest Regional Rail Network, eliminates chokepoints and creates an environment where intercity passenger trains and freight service can operate fluidly without prolonged delays,” said Deputy Federal Railroad Administrator Karen Hedlund. “The Administration’s GROW AMERICA Act will provide predictable, dedicated funding for rail projects like Indiana Gateway throughout the country, including $19 billion for rail safety and development over the next four years.”
Funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the Indiana Gateway project will complement rail improvements in neighboring states, such as the Englewood Flyover project in Chicago.