HAMMOND, Ind. — The last parts of the old Monon Railroad line closed for good in 1971, most of it still owned by CSX Transportation lay abandoned.
The rest throughout the state has been turned into walking trails or has been torn up. But in northern Indiana, a plan to better connect the region to Chicago will likely resurrect part of the old rail line.
“In a presidential tweet, we found out that our West Lake Corridor project is set to receive $100 million in federal funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation,” said South Shore president Mike Noland, talking about a tweet from President Trump announcing the funding.
The South Shore Rail Line purchased a six-mile stretch of the old Monon line from CSX in 1990, according to Noland. The plan since then has also been to turn the line into a new mass transit rail line to connect southern parts of Lake County to the Chicago metro area.
“Now we are finally going to make it happen,” said Noland. “The construction value of the project without financing is somewhere around $833 million.”
The plan is to connect a spur line, called the West Lake Corridor, to the main South Shore rail line that runs between South Bend and Chicago. The spur line would connect to the South Shore line in north Hammond and the run south into Lake County through Munster and would end in Dyer.
Noland said with just the South Shore line they average around 12,000 rides a day. In adding the West Lake Corridor to the mix, Noland expects ridership to jump to around 30,000 riders a day.
He said the initial $100 million the project is getting now is just the beginning of more federal grants the project is expected to get. It is already getting funding from the state to the tune of $6 million a year, said Noland.