NWI Forum supports $4 million for train expansion

2014-03-03T18:30:00Z 2014-03-07T11:41:06Z NWI Forum supports $4 million for train expansionMatt Mikus matt.mikus@nwi.com, (219) 933-3241 nwitimes.com
March 03, 2014 6:30 pm  • 

The Northwest Indiana Forum supports legislation to provide millions to fund expanding the South Shore Line commuter rail.

The Managing Board of Directors voted unanimously Friday to support language in the bill to direct $4 million to the RDA for the proposed extension of the South Shore Line.

Senate Bill 367 would funnel the money through the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority, earmarked for expanding the train service in Lake County.

The money would come from closing a loophole allowing people with significant investment income in Lake County to claim a tax credit designed to help low-income homeowners. 

Dewey Pearman, chair of the Forum's public policy committee, said the chance to secure the money for the commuter rail is "a unique opportunity."

"It enhances our ability to bring in disposable income from Chicago," Pearman said. "When people working in Chicago bring their income back to Northwest Indiana, it grows jobs in Northwest Indiana."
The extension will provide construction jobs and improve air quality by cutting down on car traffic, said Karen Lauerman, director of communications for the Forum.
Pearman said securing funds for the South Shore Line wasn't considered a possibility because it was a nonbudget session at the Statehouse.
The Forum will urge legislators to continue funding the RDA at its annual $10 million. Starting in 2015, the funds from the state will zero out.
The Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission's legislative committee, chaired by Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr., passed a resolution Friday that opposed SB 378 in its current form.
McDermott said he opposes it because the money could be used for struggling communities, but continues to support the South Shore Line expansion and the RDA.

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