County approves South Shore funding, homeowners concerned
St. Joseph County, Ind. - St. Joseph County Commissioners voted to give over $18 million to the South Shore Line Tuesday.
The rerouting and double-tracking will cut an hour off the South Bend to Chicago trip, but it also means some county homes will be acquired.
In order to complete the project, the South Shore stop at the South Bend International Airport will be moved, with the new track likely going through the Ardmore neighborhood.
That’s where Rich Collins has lived for 21 years.
“I’m not moving. I’m staying right where I’m at. But I’m not going to look at a train 50 feet away from me, running down that track,” Collins said to the commissioners Tuesday.
Collins and his neighbors are afraid they’ll lose their homes to eminent domain.
Despite pleas from homeowners Tuesday, the commissioners approved the county’s financial contribution to the line.
The new route will shorten the travel time between Chicago and South Bend to 90 minutes.
“We bring Chicago to South Bend. We bring the communities, those two economies closer, and make it possible for residents to start to commute back and forth to the city,” said Michael Noland, president and general manager of the South Shore Line.
Local business developers and even Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, agreed with Noland about the development opportunities.
“I urge the county to improve and endorse the opportunity to make this investment for growth,” Buttigieg said at the commissioner’s meeting.
Rerouting the South Bend section will shave ten minutes off the South Shore’s travel time.
Additional time will be shaved off on other stops to the west.
The new path hasn’t been mapped out yet, so homeowners are unaware of which houses are at risk.
Noland promised Tuesday to hold public meetings to speak with neighbors who could be disturbed or displaced by the track.
“This is a once in 100 year opportunity,” Noland said.
South Bend has already committed $25 million to this project.
Other funding is coming from the state and federal government, including $800,000 from Regional Cities.