FTA, NICTD sign $173 million FFGA for South Shore Double Track project

Jan. 8, 2021
The commuter rail project will construct a 26.6-mile second track between Gary and Michigan City.

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District (NICTD) have executed a Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) for NICTD’s South Shore Line Double Track Northwest Indiana project.  

The FFGA finalizes NICTD’s $172.96-million federal grant through the Capital Investment Grants (CIG) Program and clears the way for construction to begin on what the state of Indiana calls a decades-long priority.

“By improving commuter rail through the region, the project is a game changer for northwest Indiana and the entire state,” Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb said. “Combined with our recent announcement on the West Lake Corridor project, double tracking the South Shore line will connect Hoosiers, attract talent and business and increase quality of life in our great Indiana communities.”

The Double Track Northwest Indiana project spans 26.6 miles and will see the construction of a new second track between Michigan City and Gary that will expand service. In addition to the second track, the project includes construction of four bridges, five stations, expanding parking lots at the stations and nine new platforms. The project will also deliver safety improvements with the closure of 21 grade crossings and the construction of two new ballasted tracks that will replace single street-running track in Michigan City.

When service begins in 2024, NICTD expects to deliver service that is more reliable, as well as safe and faster with peak express trains expected to shave 33 minutes off the total travel time between Millennium Park in downtown Chicago and Michigan City.

“Reduced travel time and more frequent service options have been top priorities for those who rely on South Shore Line service. They, along with important safety enhancements, are vital to the long-term success of commuter rail operations from South Bend to Chicago,” said President of NICTD/South Shore Line Mike Noland. 

The CIG grant accounts for approximately 35 percent of the project’s estimated total cost of $491 million. The balance will be paid for by state and local funds.

The Double Track Northwest Indiana project entered Core Capacity Project Development (CCPD) of the CIG Program in May 2016. It originally withdrew from the CCPD phase in February 2019 due to declining ridership, which disqualified it as a capacity project, but reentered the CIG Program as a New Starts project in February 2020.  

"FTA is proud to join our partners in northern Indiana to improve mobility, reduce travel times and spur economic development along this corridor," said FTA Deputy Administrator K. Jane Williams. "Commuters on the South Shore Line can look forward to more efficient commuter rail service connecting them to downtown Chicago, while supporting economic recovery."

The FTA shared a video of the announcement:

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Group Editorial Director

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine and group editorial director of the Infrastructure and Aviation Group at Endeavor Business Media. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the editorial direction of the group and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.