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RDA grants millions to Gary Airport, town of Porter

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM



The Gary/Chicago International Airport received a $30 million grant from the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority on Tuesday to help fund projects involved in the airport’s runway expansion project.

“I can truly say to you we are the bank of last resort in this particular project,” RDA Executive Director Bill Hanna said, “not given the
$30 million, the project may not occur.”

The RDA Board of Directors approved the funding unanimously.

The Gary airport will use the funding to build an overpass on Industrial Highway to go over two railroad tracks.

Construction on the overpass should begin by this fall, according to AECOM program manager Scott Wheeler. AECOM is working with the Gary airport to carry out the railroad relocation and runway expansion project.

The RDA’s grant also will go toward constructing a bridge system for the Canadian National Railway over the Norfolk Southern track. Construction on the bridge could begin early as July.

The projects will play a vital part in relocating CN’s rail line and the embankment at the end of the airport’s runway. The embankment must be removed or the Federal Aviation Administration will shorten the usable length of the airport’s runway.

Wheeler told RDA board members the airport will hold a groundbreaking ceremony May 25 for
an environmental mediation
project necessary to relocate the CN rail.

“We’re really dealing with something that’s incredibly important not just from the airport standpoint,” RDA Chairman Leigh Morris said, “but from the standpoint of the regional economy.”

Along with the airport, the RDA awarded $3.9 million to the town of Porter for its shoreline project. The money will allow Porter to move forward on constructing trails and developing the area around the visitors center into a gateway to the Indiana Dunes.

RDA board member Harley Snyder abstained from voting on the grant because he believes he owns at least an acre within the footprint of the proposal.

Porter Town Council member Michele Bollinger attended Tuesday’s RDA meeting and expressed excitement about the grant.

“This is a vehicle for us to implement our vision,” Bollinger said.



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