Anyone who has ever been in Chesterton or Porter for any length of time understands the importance of the Porter Junction project to get trains moving faster through that bottleneck.
That stretch of railroad tracks sees 14 Amtrak trains and 90 freight trains a day, which can cause long delays.
Addressing that bottleneck involves construction of high-speed crossovers and a new passing siding at Porter Junction.
That's all part of the $71 million Indiana Gateway project that was ceremonially begun May 29 with Indiana Gov. Mike Pence driving the first spike at the Hammond-Whiting Amtrak station.
"I say let's blow the horn, let's get the Gateway open, and be on the way to a more prosperous Indiana," Pence said to the accompaniment of freight train rumbles and clanks just 20 feet behind him.
The project will not only speed the freight trains, reducing delays at crossings by a total of 70 hours annually, but also will help cut Amtrak's Chicago-to-Detroit travel time by an hour.
"Our passenger rail program has ushered in an entirely new era for rail since in this area, but there's more to do," Deputy Federal Railroad Administrator Karen Hedlund said.
The Indiana Gateway project, which addresses the Porter Junction bottleneck, will facilitate the construction of what eventually will be a high-speed rail network for the entire Midwest.
The Indiana Department of Transportation, which filed the application for $71.4 million in federal funding for this project, said around 700 jobs will be created by this project.
The funds come from the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which has become almost universally known as the federal stimulus bill.
We're glad to see Pence, who vehemently and repeatedly opposed federal stimulus spending while he was in the U.S. House of Representatives, gladly accept this money.
The project's importance to our freight and Amtrak rail network cannot be overstated.