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BusINess » Business Transportation » Gary airport wants to build highway/rail overpass

Gary airport wants to build highway/rail overpass

The Gary/Chicago Airport Authority on Thursday voted to spend $609,689 to design a highway overpass that would carry traffic over railroad tracks moved for runway expansion and eliminate a train-snarled crossing.

The Industrial Highway overpass would go over a pair of Canadian National tracks that currently sit at the end of the airport’s main runway as well as CSX tracks that currently cross the road just northwest of the airport, Airport Director Steve Landry said.

The current Industrial Highway at-grade crossing carries dozen of CSX trains per day. The Canadian National tracks currently pass over Industrial Highway on their own bridge. Those tracks carry about a dozen trains per day, but that number could go up to more than 30 once Canadian National fully integrates the former EJ&E Railway system.

Under airport plans for getting the Canadian National tracks out of the way of runway expansion, both the CSX and Canadian National tracks would run a parallel route along Chicago Avenue. At least a portion of Chicago Avenue east of Cline Avenue no longer would be a through road once the Industrial Highway overpass is completed, Landry said.

The airport authority on a 5-0 vote awarded the design job to Michael Baker Jr. Inc., of Indianapolis. The firm is the engineering unit of Michael Baker Corp. It was one of four companies that bid on the project.

The airport authority is working with the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority to come up with all or part of the $609,689 to pay for design work, Landry said. Actually constructing the bridge would cost roughly $16 million, and the airport plans to also ask the RDA for help with that funding.

Both CSX and Canadian National required grade-separated crossings as part of their agreement to move the Canadian National tracks, Landry said. Those tracks sit on an embankment just 130 feet from the northwest end of the airport’s main runway.

Gary airport wants to be Air Force trainers’ base

Gary/Chicago International Airport Director Steve Landry told the airport authority Thursday that the airport is one of more than a dozen statewide vying to be the assembly and testing center for a new generation of U.S. Air Force training jets.

The Indiana Economic Development Corp. has been collecting site selection information from Indiana airports for an undisclosed company that apparently wants to bid on what promises to be a massive Air Force project, IEDC spokeswoman Blair West said.

However, Indiana is just one state competing for the project, with almost all 50 states submitting sites, Landry told the airport authority board.

The Air Force eventually may select a contractor to build at least 350 next-generation training jets, according to the website flightglobal.com. As many as 1,000 could be needed if other service branches want some.

A handful of giant defense contractors may be readying proposals for building the training jets, with Boeing Corp. among them, according to flightglobal.com. Boeing Corp. is headquartered in Chicago and houses its corporate jet fleet at the Gary airport.

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