Plans for bike path through Dyer hit snag

2013-03-31T19:44:00Z 2013-03-31T21:17:04Z Plans for bike path through Dyer hit snagMary Wilds Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
March 31, 2013 7:44 pm  • 

DYER | The dream of a bike path through Dyer has come to a screeching halt now that the Canadian National Railway has entered the picture.

CN is already acquiring the portion of rail line abandoned by Norfolk Southern in Illinois, Town Administrator Rick Eberly told the Town Council.

The rail company also has its eye on the two-plus miles of abandoned Norfolk Southern line in Dyer, to be used for siding purposes, Eberly said.

Mitch Barloga of the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission has contacted Eberly regarding funding sources that Dyer could employ to buy the rail line before CN closes in on it.

But the grant money available “isn’t even close to what we’d need,” Eberly said. The cost of buying Dyer’s portion of the abandoned rail line is estimated at $2.4 million. With only $300,000 in grant money available, Dyer would have to come up with more than $2 million on its own.

“With all the street work that needs to be done, it’s not possible,” Eberly said.

The Dyer Park Board also cannot help with the purchase because of “all the work that needs to be done in Central Park,” he added.

Town Council members unanimously agreed with him that Dyer should not use its bonding power to acquire a rail line. They were all disappointed, however, that the rail corridor likely will be used as a siding area by CN.

That means railcars likely will be parked on those tracks for periods of time, thus siding will make for “an unattractive nuisance,” said Councilwoman Connee Trepton.

Upon Norfolk Southern’s announcement that it would abandon this portion of track, NIRPC and Dyer officials had hoped for an eventual 6.3-mile bike trail stretching from Schererville to Chicago Heights. The trail would have connected with the Pennsy Greenway, making it eligible for federal transportation dollars.

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