U.S. 41 in Schererville

Traffic travels at night along U.S. 41 north of U.S. 30 in Schererville.

Jonathan Miano, The Times, file

PORTAGE — The Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission will vote next week on 131 changes to its schedule of road projects for fiscal years 2018 to 2021.

The changes advance some project timelines, but mainly add new elements to a variety of projects as part of the state's $4.7 billion "Next Level" roads program.

The five-year plan will fund about $500 million in the Indiana Department of Transportation's LaPorte district, INDOT's Lyndsay Quist told NIRPC's Technical Policy Committee, which voted Tuesday to forward the project package to the full NIRPC board.

The LaPorte district runs from the northwest corner of the state east to the South Bend area, then through Newton County on the southwest and Cass and Carroll counties on the southeast. 

The NIRPC projects include a variety of maintenance and safety work, including paving and other small infrastructure upgrades in the three-county area the agency covers.

The vote will be an amendment to NIRPC's recently approved four-year Transportation Improvement Program.

The projects are "a little bit of everything all over the place," NIRPC Transportation Projects Manager Gary Evers said in introducing the amendment.

The largest project on the list is the replacement of the U.S. 35 bridge deck over Washington Street and railroad tracks in LaPorte, at about $9.1 million. Road and bridge paving projects are spread throughout the Region.

"It's good to see the reinvestment — the money that's coming into the Region," Evers said. "This is amazing what they're about ready to start here."

The Next Level roads plan emerged after the General Assembly and Gov. Eric Holcomb enacted a 20-year financing plan that included fee and tax hikes, including the 10-cent per gallon gas tax increase.

The Next Level plan lists projects in Lake County totaling $112 million over the five-year period 2018-2022. Porter County's total is $35.7 million and LaPorte County's $78.4 million.

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Transportation reporter

Andrew covers transportation, real estate, casinos and other topics for The Times business section. A Crown Point native, he joined The Times in 2014, and has more than 15 years experience as a reporter and editor at Region newspapers.