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WILLIAM NANGLE: Lots of transportation news has driven up
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WILLIAM NANGLE: Lots of transportation news has driven up

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A great deal of news last week dealt with transportation in the region’s future.

In Indianapolis, legislation to keep the Regional Development Authority alive snaked its way through the state Senate.

But as the RDA legislation was scheduled for a critical March 26 hearing, legislation establishing a “regional cities” program under the Indiana Economic Development Commission created confusion.

Some legislators suggested the RDA should be part of the “regional cities” program.

Well, poppycock! This region already has a well established productive program encouraging development. In fact, the RDA is being looked at as a “how to” example.

All you have to do is look at the RDA’s extensive list of accomplishments ranging from the Gary/Chicago International Airport to rejuvenation of the Whiting lakefront to understand why it must be given added life.

Next up for the RDA will be extending South Shore rail commuter rail service south through Lake County. The dividends will be staggering.

Look west across the state line, where 500 miles of commuter rail lines carry people to and from high-paying jobs in Chicago. Also look at the development around stations along that commuter network that brought new jobs.

After all, a Lake County line to the south will put commuters closer to downtown Chicago than those taking the Burlington line north toward Wisconsin.

I am a staunch believer our time has come to reap benefits from being a part of the Chicago metropolitan region.

So, too, must be developers here. Subdivisions in St. John a mere mile from the planned South Shore line are rapidly growing with construction of new housing. Many of the buyers are moving east from Illinois.

Likewise, Indiana, often with help from the RDA, has enticed companies to cross that state line. That has opened the door to new jobs here.

The RDA, though of critical importance to our region, isn't alone in transportation news.

  • U.S. Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., is urging new Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner to support construction of an Illiana Expressway linking I-55 in Illinois to I-65 in Indiana.
  • The South Shore announced it will launch an early morning “sunshine express” Monday getting commuters to Chicago in less time.
  • Construction of a new Cline Avenue Bridge will start as warm weather arrives.

Lots of transportation news. All of it an important part of building a better transportation network for Northwest Indiana.

William Nangle is editor emeritus of The Times. The opinions are the writer's.

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