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Reduced fed funding divided among Lake, Porter

Updated: August 19, 2013 2:50PM



PORTER — Representatives from various transportation organizations in Lake and Porter counties divvied up federal funding available to help reduce traffic congestion and emissions.

Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission determined the amount of funding available over the next two years is estimated at $4.7 million.

The committee determined that 43 percent would be allocated for motor and highway projects, 20 percent for bicycle and non-motor projects, 20 percent for public transportation, and 17 percent for other efforts like public education.

The amount available was significantly lower than in recent years, said NIRPC transportation project manager Gary Evers, due to Lake and Porter counties accidentally using funding set aside for LaPorte County.

“To even it out, we’re just going to have make that correction here,” Evers said. “That’s why we’re only using 4.7 million instead of about 7.8 million.”

Jim Mandon of Munster said highway projects are going to cost more, like building a roundabout to cut down on cars idling. But with so little money, it may be difficult to receive any proposals for projects.

“Because the projects are so expensive,” Mandon said, “it’s going to be a self fulfilling prophecy of preventing us from completing projects that reduce congestion.”

Representatives from South Shore Clean Cities noted that their public education efforts will barely be funded, without any money to help provide for fuel alternative projects like retrofitting diesel fuel cars to run on alternative energies.

Committee member Geof Benson summed up the frustration.

“It’s a sucky thing,” Benson said, “but we’re starting off with a lot less money.”

The funding is restricted to new projects that help to reduce emissions.

That could include reducing idling time with updated traffic signals or roundabouts, or increasing the amount of trails and roads that are bicycle friendly.

If money is left over, it can be transferred to other projects at a later date, Evers said.



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