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Double Track project reaches halfway point, while West Lake Corridor faces challenges

The first two elevated superstructures of the West Lake Corridor were set in downtown Hammond this week.
West Lake Corridor Project Facebook page
The first two elevated superstructures of the West Lake Corridor were set in downtown Hammond this week.

Northwest Indiana's commuter rail projects are moving ahead.

The South Shore Line's Double Track project is more than halfway done, according to Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District (NICTD) President Mike Noland. "If you just drive up and down the right of way, you'll see an army of workers installing tracks, crossovers, platforms, stations, overhead catenary," Noland told the NICTD board Monday. "It really is coming along nicely."

Noland said the portion from Michigan City to Dune Park should reopen in late June or early July. Construction on the rest of the line to Gary Metro Center is on track to be complete this November. Then, the positive train control system will be installed, followed by a few months of commissioning and testing. The second track is expected to enter full revenue service in May 2024.

Meanwhile, the West Lake Corridor branch from Hammond to Dyer has run into some "schedule headwinds," according to Noland. That includes having to coordinate with CSX on the construction of an overpass and underpass near the south end of the new branch. The NICTD board also approved a more than $5 million change order, mainly for environmental work in North Hammond.

"We understood that, you know, we're acquiring some property that had some contaminants on it that needed to be addressed. We're managing it very, very closely," Noland explained.

He said NICTD is still holding its contractor to a November 2024 construction deadline, with full service to start in May of 2025.

Work has also begun on a shorter route into South Bend International Airport. A public kickoff meeting is planned for next Wednesday in South Bend.

Michael Gallenberger is a news reporter and producer that hosts All Things Considered on 89.1 FM | Lakeshore Public Media.