Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr.
Updated: November 28, 2013 6:23AM
Commissioners of the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission are settling on three key issues they want to address when the General Assembly reconvenes in 2014.
Those concerns are expanding the South Shore rail for the West Lake County corridor, studying any potential changes to the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District board, and preserving funding for the Regional Development Authority.
Hammond Mayor Tom McDermott Jr. said NIRPC’s legislative committee will draft resolutions and present the three to the full commission.
McDermott said NIRPC’s committee wants to continue the RDA for 10 more years, but the state needs to continue to chip in.
“We basically want to hold the conditions for the RDA where they’re at,” he said. “That $10 million from the state is the glue that holds it together. The theory is the state is going to try to get out of the financial commitment. If everything stays the same, we’ll support it.”
The committee also agreed to support expanding South Shore train service in West Lake County, but will wait before speaking out on the organization of NICTD’s board of directors.
During the last session, state Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon proposed legislation to change the board to reflect ridership usage and assigning more board members from Lake County.
NICTD spokesman John Parson provided numbers to the committee on riders, with Lake County stations providing 57.9 percent of boardings and 55 percent of riders residing in the county.
McDermott said the committee won’t take a position on the issue until they know a bill is introduced next year.
Ty Warner, executive director of NIRPC, said the committee will suggest creating an ad hoc committee to study any potential changes.