Busy month coming up for Illiana public hearings
By Matt Mikus email@example.com August 13, 2013 9:30PM
Updated: September 15, 2013 6:28AM
PORTAGE — The Transportation Policy Committee of Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission told members of the public that a number of public hearings for citizens will be scheduled for the Illiana Corridor project.
Mitch Bargola of NIRPC informed the committee Tuesday that the staff will produce a white paper by Labor Day to inform commissioners on the new highway planned for the southern half of Lake County to connect Interstate 65 with Interstate 55 and 57 in Illinois.
The paper will consider whether the Illiana should be adopted into the 2040 long-term planning document, and the highways effects on congestion and environmental impacts.
Afterward, a monthlong public comment period will begin if the transportation committee approves a congestion management process. Bargola said the commission hopes to hold a hearing within each of the counties.
Dates for the hearings have not yet been set
Members of the public stated during the meeting the Illiana should not be supported by NIRPC.
Ted Gross of Lowell said the highway project is to reduce traffic congestion in Illinois, and the state wants its neighbor to bail them out of a poor planning decision.
Sandy Linden of Deer Creek said the project provides no benefits to Porter or LaPorte County.
“For people who say we need the jobs,” Linden said, “there’s plenty of union construction jobs to fix our other roads.”
Indiana Department of Transportation spokesman Jim Pinkerton said they are working with NIRPC and the public to provide as much information on the project as possible.
Amtrak support on hold
A resolution asking INDOT to support funding for the Hoosier State service from Amtrak was tabled to allow the public transit roundtable to consider the language before voting on it.
While the state transit program has stated it doesn’t plan to use current public transit funds for the Amtrak line, public transit representatives worry about where the $4 million to keep the state service will come from.
The federal government will discontinue funding for trips within 750 miles on Oct. 1, stopping service from Chicago to Indianapolis four days a week.
INDOT is considering whether to fund the service,and if funding should increase to provide more trips or keep the status quo.