HAMMOND | Reports on the progress of major projects being funded by the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority occupied members of the RDA working groups during Tuesday's meeting at the Hammond Port Authority.
Steve Landry, interim director of the Gary/Chicago International Airport, reported design work for relocating railroad tracks to make way for an expanded main runway is at the 30 percent engineer review stage. In addition, Michael Baker Jr. Inc. of Indianapolis has been awarded the contract to do design work for railroad tracks crossing Industrial Avenue, Landry said.
In 2006, the RDA approved $20 million for the airport runway expansion, which is expected to cost $128 million.
Several Lake Michigan shoreline projects also were reviewed.
The RDA has earmarked $28 million for the Marquette Greenway Plan to revitalize the Gary lakeshore park. Gary officials are reviewing bids for several parts of the Marquette plan, said Christopher Meyer, economic development director for Gary.
Consultants working on the Gateway to the Indiana Dunes in the town of Porter gave an update on the first year of that project, which is designed to increase awareness and use of the Indiana Dunes by visitors and local residents.
It is part of the ongoing shoreline development being funded in part by the RDA.
"The RDA money is leveraging other funding sources," said Gregg E. Calpino of JJR Inc. of Chicago. Both public and private partnerships and investments are going into this plan, he said.
Another lakeshore pilot project involves a $20,000 RDA grant that is being used to set up rain gardens, rain barrels and vegetative swales in Valparaiso's Memorial neighborhood. Funded primarily through a grant from the U.S. Forest Service, the project will direct water runoff into the soil rather than into storm sewers, said Rod Ginter, project manager of JFNew Inc.