The Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission (NIRPC) serves Lake, Porter and LaPorte Counties in Northwest Indiana as a council of local governments that provides a forum for Northwest Indiana’s elected officials to address regional issues relating to transportation, the environment, and community and economic development. Here are four areas of focus where NIRPC had made recent advancement for the region.
2040 Comprehensive Regional Plan
The 2040 Comprehensive Regional Plan is a Vision Plan that was developed as a comprehensive, citizen-based regional vision that will guide the development of land use, economic development, the environment, urban reinvestment, and transportation programming. Two years of discussions on the opportunities and challenges in Northwest Indiana contributed to the 2040 Comprehensive Regional Plan, which was adopted in June of 2011. The 2040 Comprehensive Regional Plan received the Daniel Burnham Award from the American Planning Association as the best comprehensive plan from across the country.
Creating Livable Centers Program
The purpose of the Creating Livable Centers Program is to support community-based transportation and land use projects that bring vitality to downtown areas, neighborhoods, station areas, commercial cores, and transit corridors. It funds development and redevelopment projects in the places where we already live and work to create a better range of working, housing and travel choices. “This program helps to make our communities more walkable, vibrant, and destination-oriented,” says Ty Warner, Executive Director for NIRPC. “It allocates a portion of our available transportation funding to downtown planning for our communities, since increasing livability and walkability in our downtowns reduces the draw on our regional transportation system.”
South Shore Rail Extension
In December 2013, NIRPC passed a resolution to endorse increased investment in commuter rail connecting the Chicago market to Northwest Indiana in general and the development of the West Lake Corridor expansion. The West Lake Corridor is a proposed extension of NICTD’s South Shore Line commuter service south from its current route. “NIRPC has a long history of supporting the expansion commuter rail in Northwest Indiana,” says Warner. “NIRPC feels the extension also furthers other goals of the 2040 Comprehensive Regional Plan. When ‘livable centers’ lie along transit routes, then the ‘livability’ of these downtowns is even better since they become opportunities for Transit-Oriented Development, which will also have a direct connection to the jobs in Chicago. This opens up an entirely new housing market for northwestern Indiana that is attractive to younger buyers,” he says.
Regional Trail Development
As a result of the combined efforts of regional groups and municipalities in conjunction with NIRPC, Northwest Indiana has seen the development of over 130 miles of paved trails throughout the region and Northwest Indiana is becoming known as a premier destination for trails. In addition to trails for running, hiking, and biking, the region has also designated significant water trails which provide exceptional opportunities for kayaking and canoeing.
NIRPC’s Greenways/Blueways Plan maps for real-time use are available in the NIRPC office.