Representatives from the City of Hammond recently met with NICTD representatives, in a 2 ½ hour meeting, in regards to the latest status of the proposed South Shore extension to Dyer. Please keep in mind that the South Shore Expansion plan is in the very initial stages and cannot be finalized until the completion of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which is a Federal requirement for new capital projects and is expected to be concluded later in 2015.
At the present time, this is what NICTD expects to be included in the final version of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS):
- A new South Shore station located around 171st and Lyman St.
- This new South Shore station will be accompanied by a new 1,000 car parking lot, located along the Monon right-of-way adjacent to Lyman St, between 165th and 173rd Streets.
- The exits to and from this new 1,000 car parking lot will exit on 165th and 173rd respectively.
- A new South Shore Station switching yard located south of 173rd streets, adjacent to Lyman St right next to the Southmoor subdivision in South Hammond.
- Two new, fully automated, at-grade rail crossings located at Lyman and 165th, as well as Lyman and 173rd.
- At this time, it appears that the new rail line will be electric, meaning that no diesel engines will be part of the expansion.
At this meeting, however, there was no discussion as to whether or not freight will be allowed on the new, eight mile north-south line to Dyer. This means that there is still a possibility that freight will be part of the new line to Dyer, resulting in increasing train delays in south Hammond along 165th and 173rd streets.
At this meeting, there was also no discussion, whatsoever, as to allocating part of the $600 million to be spent on this eight mile extension towards providing more regional bus services around Northwest Indiana.
At the present time, Hammond City Officials have been asked, by Congressman Pete Visclosky, to allocate $27 million, over thirty years, to this project. Hammond city officials balked at that number in 2014, deciding instead to wait until the results of the EIS are complete before earmarking any long term debt towards this project. Once the EIS is complete, Congressman Visclosky wants Hammond officials to earmark $900,000 annually, for the next thirty years, towards this project.
Keep in mind that, until the federally mandated Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is completed in late 2015, these plans are only preliminary. The only reason we decided to communicate these preliminary details to Hammond residents is to keep them fully updated on the latest plans for this $600 million project. For any detailed questions about this issue, please direct them to the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District (NICTD) at (219) 926-5744, or to Congressman Pete Viscklosky’s office at (219) 795-1844 or (202) 225-2461.