PORTAGE | Three resolutions addressing significant transportation issues throughout Northwest Indiana gained the approval of the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission executive board at Thursday’s meeting.
All three resolutions came to the executive board with positive recommendations from NIRPC’s transportation policy committee and are in line with NIRPC’s 2040 Plan, said Merrillville town councilman Shawn Pettit, committee chairman.
NIRPC supports the continuation and maintenance of Amtrak’s Hoosier state service through funding by the Indiana Department of Transportation. That daily passenger train service connects Indianapolis with Chicago with a stop in Dyer.
Support of this resolution “is contingent upon there being no adverse financial impact on state funding for any public transit providers in the State of Indiana,” the document reads.
An amendment to the 2014-17 Transportation Improvement Program for Lake, Porter and LaPorte counties was also approved despite repeated past attempts by the disability advocacy group Everybody Counts to prevent that action, based on what the group saw as lack of notice.
According to a letter to NIRPC executive director Ty Warner from NIRPC attorney David Hollenbeck, there was “no legal impediment which would have prevented the unconditional approval of the Resolution.”
This resolution covers 201 projects in communities including East Chicago, Gary, LaPorte, Michigan City and Valparaiso as well as such agencies as North Township, Opportunity Enterprises, Porter County Aging & Community Services and South Lake County Community Services.
NIRPC Transportation Projects Manager Gary Evers said the TIP also includes bus replacement and support of projects proposed by Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District for South Shore service.
A total of $114.9 million in federal funding will be used for the 2014-17 TIP.
The final resolution features a second amendment to the TIP for projects by the Indiana Department of Transportation.
Evers told the board INDOT requested specific changes. Some projects were added, including bridge work and road rehabilitation. Other projects were deleted by INDOT including intersection and pipeline work.
INDOT is adding three rail crossing protection projects, he said. Two are CSX crossings in Dyer, at Sheffield Avenue and 77th Street. The third is the CSX crossing at 93rd Avenue in St. John.
Executive Board Chairman and Crown Point Mayor David Uran declared the use of Roberts Rules of Order at all future meetings he chairs. Those rules allow public comments only on points on the agenda.
He also said future communication between Everybody Counts would need to be between Hollenbeck and the group’s attorney Steve Siros.
Those actions brought negative reaction from Torres and others from Everybody Counts.