Public to get say on high-speed rail route

2013-09-11T11:34:00Z 2013-09-11T17:38:10Z Public to get say on high-speed rail routeKeith Benman keith.benman@nwi.com, (219) 933-3326 nwitimes.com
September 11, 2013 11:34 am  • 

The public will get its say and a preview of the planned Chicago-to-Detroit high-speed rail route at two public meetings in Northwest Indiana next week.

The first will be held from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday at Genesis Convention Center, One Genesis Center Plaza, in Gary. The second will be held from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Sept. 19 at Porter Town Hall, 303 Franklin St., Porter.

Comments made at the public meetings will become part of the phase one Environmental Impact Statement. That statement will examine the rail project's effect on the natural environment, jobs, the economy, air quality, traffic and neighborhoods.

Work has already started on some individual projects along the route, but route alternatives are still being considered between Chicago and Porter, including the area known as South of the Lake, according to the Indiana Department of Transportation.

The 300-mile Chicago-to-Detroit route was one of the first to receive high-speed rail grants under the Obama Administration's stimulus program. So far $595 million has been obligated for projects along the route including stations and new tracks, according to Federal Railroad Administration data.

The only high-speed rail project in Indiana to win stimulus funds, the Indiana Gateway on the Chicago-to-Detroit route, has $71 million obligated to relieve congestion at Porter Junction. The junction is one of the nation's most congested.

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