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Transportation is self evidently a pretty important thing.

Cars give people the ability to drive wherever they want, whenever they want. For those who are employed and don’t work from home, we rely on our vehicles to get us to work everyday.

Driving to work can naturally become extremely tedious. The longer you have to drive, the more your commute begins to drain you.

My father would know, as for the past 25 years he’s been a crane operator working in the Chicago area, commuting on the expressway daily from Crown Point.

Anyone who makes that commute knows how painful it can be. Dangerous drivers causing chaotic accidents result in more traffic, as does sporadic construction.

Forget about maintaining your vehicle — whatever you drive as your daily car will most likely exhibit some minor damage.

My father’s last two cars have had multiple cracked windshields from stray rocks flying up at him after a long day’s work. It has gotten to a point where his only option is to buy a truck, something he still has yet to do, as he’s stuck with a cavernous crack across his line of vision.

If you aren’t lucky enough to be reimbursed for the gas you use to get to work, driving to Chicago might as well be another tax out of your paycheck.

The South Shore Line’s new expansion, the West Lake Corridor, is attempting to help solve this chaos for commuters. The project has been granted approval to begin engineering earlier this month. Three new stops are to be extended south from the Hammond gateway, including South Hammond, Munster Ridge Road, and Munster/Dyer Main Street. The expansion will bring convenience to the west side of Lake County’s commuters, along with new opportunities including an estimated 6,000 jobs.

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The total cost of the project is listed on it’s fact sheet to be $933 million, with 62% funded by state and local funds and 38% funded by the federal government.

Despite the fact that commuters who take the train will be able to rest instead of maneuvering through traffic, it’s also a much faster way of getting to work.

Many of the highway connections sprouting out of Chicago’s infrastructure become congested during peak hours. The West Corridor Project released a “Purpose and Need” draft, which claims that some road systems are 40% faster during off-peak hours.

More individuals commuting by train would alleviate the amount of people traveling by car, making traffic systems less congested meaning faster commutes for private vehicles.

The Northwest Indiana Planning Commision predicts that around 170,000 additional people will be added to Northwest Indiana’s population by 2040. This may be the key reason why this project is finally getting done after three decades of negotiation. Bigger population turns into more traffic and employment focus is on Chicago instead of local businesses.

It’s important to note that the West lake Corridor is only in it’s engineering stage. Construction of the railway isn’t scheduled to begin until 2020, leading all the way in to 2024 when it’s expected to be complete, though the future implications of what this railway will do seem bright.

The West Lake Corridor represents strong regional connections between Northwest Indiana and the Windy City. Culturally, it symbolizes our community’s ties to the hard working class in Chicago and the tribulations dealt with by the Region’s commuters.

For those who are struggling to find opportunity here in Northwest Indiana, this may be a way to find employment. As for those who already deal with brutal Chicago traffic, a new alternative is on the horizon.

Besides pure economic value, the thought of taking the train from Munster to Millenium Park on a sunny summer day is something I believe everyone in the Region can admire.

Jacob Johansson is a senior at Crown Point High School. The opinions are the writer's.

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