EDITORIAL: NWI is true Crossroads of America

2013-09-18T00:00:00Z EDITORIAL: NWI is true Crossroads of America nwitimes.com
September 18, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Indiana likes to refer to itself as the "Crossroads of America." That's true, but not in the sense the Hoosier Holy Land likes to believe.

Indianapolis boosters point out the city has more interstate highways than any other city in the United States.

Big deal.

You want to talk transportation? Come to Northwest Indiana. It's our bread and butter, and for good reason.

Like a giant thumb, Lake Michigan pushes east-west surface transportation into Northwest Indiana. All major surface routes between the east coast and Chicago -- the nation's rail hub -- pass through Northwest Indiana.

The Chicago metropolitan area -- of which Northwest Indiana is a part -- has a gross domestic product of more than $532 billion. In fact, if the Chicago area were a country, it would rank 20th in terms of GDP, based on U.S. Department of Commerce and World Bank data.

How big is the Indianapolis area's GDP muscle? Slightly bigger than Puerto Rico's.

Is it any wonder Northwest Indiana sees such heavy traffic counts?

Even with the Cline Avenue bridge not yet replaced, because of officials downstate who balked at fulfilling their responsibility to pay the state's share of the cost, Northwest Indiana understands freight quite well.

We've got our own deepwater port in Portage, connecting Indiana to the world via the St. Lawrence Seaway. The Indiana Port Commission -- based in Indianapolis -- says the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor, which is in Portage and not Burns Harbor, handles more ocean-going cargo than any other U.S. Great Lakes port and 15 percent of U.S. steel trade with Europe. 

According to the commission's figures, the Portage port handles half a million trucks, 10,000 railcars, 400 barges and 100 ships per year.

How many ports does Indianapolis have?

Yet the promoters of the 2013 Indiana Logistics Summit in Indianapolis next month are promoting the Indianapolis area as the gateway to Asia, thanks to a new intermodal facility that will open then.

It's amusing to see the Hoosier Holy Land attempt to bill itself as the Crossroads of America, a title that rightfully belongs to the entire state, and the gateway to the world. But if we're talking smaller geography, Indianapolis should look to Northwest Indiana.

Crossroads of America? Gateway to the world? Sure, we'll take those titles. We deserve them.

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