Negotiations continue with railroads to move tracks for runway expansion at the Gary/Chicago International Airport, while plans for that phase are moving from concept into engineering design.
Members of the Gary/Chicago International Airport Authority approved the release of funds for those two activities at their meeting Thursday.
The board approved spending an additional $75,000 for the services of Kaplan Kirsch & Rockwell LLP, a Washington, D.C.-based law firm that specializes in railroad negotiations and legal matters. Charles A. Spitulnik of that law firm has been the chief negotiator in meetings with the railroads. The additional money brings the amount earmarked for that work to $190,000.
To design the railroad relocation, the airport authority authorized spending more than $1.2 million to contract with TranSystem, with an additional $279,177 for installation of railroad track signals by SafeTran.
In addition, the board heard that a bid packet for environmental remediation of contaminated land bought by the airport for its expansion project will be released this weekend. Bids are due back March 4.
The airport authority also welcomed its newest member, Robert Poparad, of Burns Harbor, a representative from Porter County. Poparad was one of the Porter County Council members voting to keep Porter County as part of the Regional Development Authority.
"Bob gave as his reason (for that vote), a belief that this airport can be a major economic development engine for the entire area," said Ross Amundson, RDA vice president.