PORTAGE | Indiana's port authority has launched a few major construction projects at the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor.
The Ports of Indiana Commission recently approved $1.7 million in spending on new rail and sewer infrastructure at the 600-acre port on the southern shore of Lake Michigan.
Burns Harbor-based Tranco Industrial Services Inc. was hired for $508,000 to reconstruct the main railroad line at the deep-water port in Portage. The project includes rehabilitating 2,500 feet of rail and replacing 1,000 crossties.
The reconstruction is aimed at updating the port's aging three-mile rail loop, which was built in 1980. The rail line circles the port, connecting the 500 or so ships and barges that dock there every year with the 30 port-based companies such as Feralloy and Leeco Steel. The loop hooks into the adjacent Norfolk Southern Rail Yard.
An estimated 13,000 railroad cars pass through the port every year.
Once the latest rail work is completed, about half of the line will have been rebuilt since 2010.
"It is important that we maintain the port infrastructure and keep it in top shape in order to provide maximum receipt and delivery flexibility for the businesses located here," port director Rick Heimann said.
The commission also hired Crown Point-based LGS Plumbing to do $1.2 million in sanitary sewer improvements at the port.
Workers will replace about 1,900 feet of sewer pipe that runs under the freight and commuter rail lines.
The rail line reconstruction is expected to take two months, and the sewer project will span three months once it gets started after Labor Day. An estimated 24 construction workers will be employed over the next few months on the various projects.
Maris and Son of Hobart also will replace the roofs of four buildings at the port, which handles more ocean-going cargo than any other Great Lakes port, as well as 15 percent of the U.S. steel trade with Europe.
The port is a major hub for steel processing, since it is home to 10 steel companies and near three steel mills.