Regional Freight Issues
In 2010, 51 million tons of freight, worth $45 billion, was transported each day in the United States. Much of this freight followed established highway and rail corridors leading to Chicago, the nation’s largest freight hub. Northwest Indiana is situated along the southern end of Lake Michigan. Since Lake Michigan restricts northeastern and eastern movement in and out of Chicago, all rail and truck traffic is funneled through a narrow corridor in Northwest Indiana, where it mixes with local and regional traffic. Numerous studies have identified significant rail and highway capacity constraints in Northwest Indiana, which is precarious, in light of the projected 20% growth in volume of freight transported throughout the region, by the year 2040 (US DOT). This growth has been buoyed by the development of Kirk Yard, Canadian National’s 350–acre facility in the City of Gary, and the operator’s primary classification yard for the Chicagoland area. The continued rise of freight traffic and expansion of infrastructure will result in higher volumes of trains blocking at-grade crossings, and increased road congestion.