Porter Junction rail project finally gets green light

From The Northwest Indiana Times:

The long-delayed Indiana Gateway rail project will be kicked off by Gov. Mike Pence and other officials on Thursday, which will lead to $71.4 million in construction projects during the next two years.

The Indiana Department of Transportation and Federal Railroad Administration on Tuesday confirmed the Indiana Gateway finally has the green light, with some work already underway.

The Federal Railroad Administration, Amtrak and INDOT declined to say much more on Tuesday, saying most details would be forthcoming Thursday at a news conference at the Hammond-Whiting Amtrak station.

The Indiana Gateway project was first announced in January 2010 as part of the Obama administration’s nationwide high-speed rail initiative. In all, $8 billion in funding was announced for projects, including $2.6 billion for Midwest projects centering on Chicago.

One of the larger individual projects within the Indiana Gateway will take place at Porter Junction, where 14 Amtrak trains and 90 freight trains cross paths daily, often leading to long delays, according to the INDOT application for the project.

Materials have been ordered and construction work will start soon at the crossing just south of the small town’s historic downtown. It should be completed next year, said INDOT spokesman Will Wingfield.

The Porter Junction currently stands as a roadblock to instituting high-speed service between Chicago and Detroit, a project that has won hundreds of millions in federal funding.

The Indiana Gateway work was first delayed as Norfolk Southern, Amtrak, the Federal Railroad Administration and INDOT negotiated over the best way to reconfigure tracks. In September 2012 a deal was finally struck, but there has been little construction work done up until now.

The Indiana Gateway was the only Indiana project approved under Obama’s high-speed rail initiative, which was a key part of the administration’s stimulus effort to lift the U.S. economy out of the Great Recession. The project will create some 700 construction jobs, according to INDOT’s application.

Source: http://www.nwitimes.com/business/local/porter-junction-rail-project-finally-gets-green-light/article_f90e9daa-50a7-5418-96b3-00f5d8cdabae.html