Gary Chicago Airport facing expansion delays

September 13, 2011

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(Flickr/Eric Alix Rogers)

A lack of cooperation from several railroads is slowing the expansion at the Gary Chicago International Airport in Gary, Indiana.  And, that’s bad news since the airport is on a tight schedule.

The airport needs to extend its main runway within the 2 ½ years or it could lose more than $150 million from the Federal Aviation Administration.

Extending the runway is seen as a key to the airport landing a commercial airliner and larger cargo airplanes.  But to extend the runway by nearly 2,000, several railroad tracks need to be removed or realigned. That’s proven tough to do.

Railroad companies such as CN, CSX and Norfolk Southern have been resisting some of the airport’s plans for realigning the tracks. Work started last May and needs to be completed by December 2013.

Gary Chicago airport board member Ross Amundson says while he doesn’t think the project is in jeopardy, he does believe the pace of work needs to pick up considerably.

“Railroads are tough to deal with. I think part of our issue is just getting the attention of the decision makers,” Amundson told WBEZ on Tuesday. “We just can’t get decisions done in a timely manner that we need them done in to stay on our schedule.”

Amundson says the airport will seek assistance from Northwest Indiana’s congressman, U.S. Rep. Peter J. Visclosky (D-Indiana), to help move things along quicker.

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