Northwestern Indiana government and economic development leaders cut a ceremonial ribbon today on a long-planned $153 million expansion of the Gary/Chicago International Airport in Gary.
The need for a third major airport in the Chicago region, besides O’Hare and Midway airports, has debated for decades, IndyStar.com reports, but was delayed by interstate politics and funding issues.
The Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority recently approved a $30 million grant to jump-start construction, and the project will receive $48 million in federal funding.
The Airport Authority that operates the facility and other agencies have planned an expansion that includes construction of a 1,900 extension to the main runway, making it about 8,900 feet long, which can handle larger planes. The work also includes railroad bridges, vehicle overpasses, relocation of railroad tracks and demolition of old rail lines.
“We are serious about this project,” Harley Snyder, vice chairman of the Regional Development Authority, told IndyStar. “It’s not just smoke and mirrors. We are on target.”
Construction work to relocate railroad lines is beginning immediately. The new tracks for the Canadian National and the Norfolk Southern rail lines are to be operational by 2012.