Across the Boarder

Anything pertaining to railfanning in Indiana.

Across the Boarder

Unread postby Scooterb » Tue Feb 07, 2006 5:45 pm

Good read on a possable intermodel yard. That would/could affect CN/ CSX

By Jason Miller, The (Michigan City IN)News-Dispatch

UNION MILLS - The mayors of LaPorte County's two cities have thrown
their support behind the idea of joining a Regional Development
Authority with Lake and Porter counties that could help bring a
massive distribution center to the southern part of the county.

"It could be the largest economic development project since the
combined riverboat development or even the steel mills," Michigan
City Mayor Chuck Oberlie said Friday of an intermodal facility that
could be built near Union Mills or Kingsbury in the coming
years. "That's certainly an incentive."

LaPorte Mayor Leigh Morris and state Rep. Mary Kay Budak, R-LaPorte,
say the county could be in line for the facility if it joins the
RDA, established a year ago for the two counties to the west.

The thought of thousands of new jobs coming to the county as a
result of an RDA-endorsed project has reduced the mayors' doubts
about joining the authority.

Their endorsements, however, are tempered by the fact they want some
assurances that the county won't be left out when it comes to
approving and helping pay for road and infrastructure projects.
Price of admission to the authority has been $3.5 million a year -
retroactive to last year - for the county.

But it may serve as the vehicle for LaPorte County to get a bigger
share of anticipated revenue from the state's leasing of the Indiana
Toll Road, a proposal by Gov. Mitch Daniels that appears headed for
approval in the current Indiana General Assembly. The state will get
$3.8 billion for roads and other transportation projects during the
next 10 years under the Toll Road lease.

The intermodal facility would serve as a transfer and distribution
station for the rail lines and highways that traverse the county.
Its creation, Oberlie said, would then spur the creation of other
businesses - like distribution centers, warehouses and
manufacturers - that want to be close to the facility.

When the facility is up and running and the possibility of ancillary
businesses is realized, more than 15,000 jobs could be created. Add
improved roads to the mix, Oberlie said, and the plan would be
beneficial to Michigan City.

"It would be straight down (U.S.) 421 or (Ind.) 39. It would give us
great access," he said. "It would provide jobs for residents and
people from out of town who would move here for the jobs."

County officials have been pushing for years for an expansion to
four lanes of U.S. 421 from Interstate 94 south to Westville or
Wanatah, and Indiana 39 between LaPorte and the Toll Road. Oberlie
and Budak both said this week the facility could allow for such
highway expansion.

RDA and state officials hope LaPorte County agrees to kick in the
$3.5 million per year over 10 years for membership but are meeting
opposition from some residents and lawmakers.

Purdue University-North Central is studying the validity of the
group and membership in it.

Oberlie said the intermodal facility and the jobs it brings could be
an incentive to join because it could improve infrastructure
throughout the area.

"It could be. But at the same time, what everybody would like to see
is a commitment to solve some of the problems we have," he
said. "The county and the RDA could do road improvements and sewer
and water improvements (to serve the facility and any other
businesses that choose to locate in the area)."

While LaPorte County appears to be the front-runner for the
facility, Hammond has been mentioned as a possibility, as well.
Oberlie stated two reasons why LaPorte County is the best fit.

"We can assemble the 2,000 acres needed to do this," he said. "I'm
not sure where in Lake County and Porter County they could find that
kind of land.

"And Canadian National Railroad and CSX are both in the areas being

Officials also are looking at an area near the Kingsbury Industrial
Park as a possible location.
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