Lakeshore News Tonight

NIRPC Public Meetings Key Before Vote

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November 4, 2013 — A plan to add an additional high-speed, east-west route to accommodate increased freight traffic is moving forward.

The Illinana Corridor has received support from the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning.   Now, the joint Illinois-Indiana Departments of Transportation project needs public input before the Region’s planning group takes a vote.

Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission’s Planning Director and Deputy Director Steve Strains said the first of four Illiana feedback meetings took place over the weekend in Gary, “Just a couple of people attended.  They had a strong interest in the Illinana project, whatever their feelings for or against.”

Strains is hoping more people attend the next three public input meetings, all before the full commission votes next month whether to include the Illiana corridor in the 2040 Comprehensive Regional Plan.

“If this project is included in the plan, that means that there will be a major expressway link, east-west link, in the transportation system primarily linking that part of Lake County between Lowell and Cedar Lake beginning at I-65 and then going west into Illinois.  So, it’s really an east-west, bi-state link,” Stains said.

While support was low in Gary during the first public hearing, Strains expects more people will attend a meeting in Lowell Tuesday evening since the proposed project would run right through town.

Strains said, “That is the primary purpose to give our board members enough information from the public from anyone who attends those meetings so that they can truly make an informed decision.  There are many ways that our board members have been and will be informed.  This is a major way.”

Comments received at the public meetings will be compiled and submitted to NIRPC’s Transportation Policy Committee and to the full commission next month.

The first of the next three meetings will take place Tuesday at Lowell Middle School from 6-9 p.m., followed by a public meeting Wednesday, November 13 at the NIRPC office in Portage from 4-6 p.m.  The final public meeting takes place on Tuesday, November 19 at City Hall in Michigan City from 2-4 p.m.

By Renetta DuBose


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