NIRPC seeking big transpo projects
The Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission is opening a one-month window for municipalities and the Indiana Department of Transportation to submit transportation projects for inclusion in its 2040 Comprehensive Regional Plan.
Preliminary engineering for the proposed Illiana Expressway might be one project submitted, along with other transportation expansion plans that will enhance traffic flow in, around and between communities. The public can comment in March on projects preliminarily selected.
“The bottom line is we have a lot of work we need to do by the time we go out for public comment,” NIRPC Transportation Planning Manager Bill Brown said at Tuesday’s meeting of NIRPC’s Transportation Policy Committee.
The committee approved a list of more than 33 criteria by which projects will be judged for inclusion in the 2040 plan, including improving access for the handicapped, reducing congestion and promoting access to jobs. The plan will serve as the region’s blueprint for development for the next 30 years.
NIRPC’s solicitation for projects will run through early January, Brown said. By February, NIRPC will have picked projects to submit for public comment and review. In April, the full NIRPC board will vote on adopting a final plan.
In late October, the NIRPC board voted to make anti-sprawl measures a centerpiece of the plan to build up urban centers and “livable communities” throughout the three-county region.
INDOT LaPorte District spokeswoman Angie Fegaras in comments after Tuesday’s meeting said the state agency is not ready to name specific projects it wants considered for inclusion in the 2040 plan.
But preliminary engineering for the proposed Illiana Expressway is one candidate, she said. If it is not ready for submission in January, it can be submitted any time later as part of NIRPC’s normal Transportation Improvement Program, Fegaras said.
The state’s plan for replacing the Cline Avenue Bridge eventually may be included in NIRPC’s long-range plan through the same process, Fegaras said.
NIRPC staff on Tuesday also released theoretical scoring charts for several region projects that may be submitted for consideration as examples for the committee. Those included projects such as a marina access road in Gary, a hypothetical bus route along Broadway and through Merrillville, and the long-talked-about 45th Street bridge in Munster to carry traffic over the Canadian National railroad tracks at Calumet Avenue.
INDOT to talk about Cline Avenue
The Indiana Department of Transportation plans to hold a public hearing in January on a draft environmental impact statement for Cline Avenue, INDOT spokeswoman Angie Fegaras said.
The draft environmental impact statement will lay out the probable effects of various options for replacing the condemned bridge over the Indiana Harbor and Ship Canal.
Among other results, the draft statement will outline whether INDOT’s plan for constructing a permanent detour to replace the bridge is feasible. It also will examine the option of building a new bridge.
A time, date and place for the public hearing will be set once the draft statement is completed, Fegaras said.