The West Lake TOD Project is a planning process that will create “transit-oriented development” plans for areas around four new stations that are proposed as part of the West Lake Corridor Project. Individual plans for each station areas will be created. The four new stations are: Hammond Gateway, Hammond South, Munster Ridge, and Munster/Dyer at Main.
The West Lake Corridor Project is an approximately 9-mile southern extension of the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District’s (NICTD) existing South Shore Line (SSL) between Dyer and Hammond, Indiana.
50% of the funding required for construction of the West Lake Corridor project will come from the federal New Starts grant program. As part of the grant application, cities must show that they have a long-term plan for mixed-use development near transit. The West Lake TOD planning process will generate those long-term plans. These plans will be submitted as part of the grant application. Our goal is a robust and thoughtful planning process resulting in implementable TOD plans and a strong grant application.
The FTA is the Federal Transit Administration, the federal body that provides financial and technical assistance to local public transit systems.
The New Starts Program is a federal grant program that appropriates roughly $2.3 billion each year to fund transit projects. The FTA evaluates all applicants based on a rating system. There is no guarantee that all applicants will receive funding; in fact, the program is very competitive, therefore there is great pressure to submit a strong application.
These areas were selected as part of an extensive planning process by NICTD, which included environmental analysis, input from community and civic leaders and numerous public meetings. Full details about this process are available at http://www.nictdwestlake.com/
Transit-oriented development, or TOD, is a type of community development that includes a mixture of housing, office, retail and/or other commercial development and amenities integrated into a walkable neighborhood and located within a half-mile of quality public transportation.
Some of the benefits of TOD include:
An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for all federally-funded projects that will have a significant impact on the quality of the human environment.
The EIS process for the Westlake Corridor Project has been underway for a while and a Draft EIS is currently being developed. While both the EIS and TOD plans contribute to the overall project, they are separate processes with a different set of deliverables. The EIS process sets boundaries for a study area that federal grant money can be used on. The TOD Plans will be cognizant of the boundaries and any development that is proposed to be federally-funded will be placed within that boundary.
The Transit Impact Fee is only applied to NEW development. Existing homeowners will not be affected by the Transit Impact Fee.
With the opening of two new stations in Hammond, the existing Hammond station will close.
Because of the extensive investments that will occur in proximity to the Hammond Gateway station, downtown Hammond is likely to see much renewed development and increases in property values and tax revenue.
TODs rely heavily on good street connectivity and linkages. Therefore, it will be critical to study connections of existing streets and the addition of new streets during this process. The following are potential street connections and improvements that will be considered as part of the designs:
No one’s home will be taken for transit oriented development. Any homes or land that need to be acquired will only be for the NICTD West Lake train extension.
Not due to the West Lake Corridor.
For existing homeowners, property taxes will only increase if the transit investments cause an increase in the value of the property in question. It is likely that property taxes will fall over the entire municipality as the investments cause the property tax rates to fall.
Property taxes are controlled in Indiana. It is a rate controlled system. Homeowners who live in their homes may not pay more than 1% of the assessed value of their property. Commercial property is limited to a 3% rate on assessed value. Property tax revenues go to your local government to fund local government services and improvements as well as schools.
On average, overall commute times are estimated to decrease by more than 25%. Here is the approximate station by station table of commute times by NICTD:
Hammond Gateway: 32 minutes
South Hammond: 37 minutes
Munster Ridge Road: 40 minutes
Munster/Dyer: 45 minutes
The West Lake Corridor is being funded out of existing revenue sources by the State of Indiana, the RDA and contributions from more than a dozen local communities. Combined, they have assembled enough to pay half the cost of the project. If approved by FTA, the federal government will pay the other 50%. No new taxes are needed to build the West Lake Corridor.
Sustainable development has to be planned for. The existing lines may have had the intention of just providing a station and parking lot for transit riders, without considering surrounding land uses and development opportunities Development is most successful when it can be directly adjacent to stations. In most cases this is not possible if a station sits in a large parking lot or if adjacent zoning does not allow for high-density development. By proactively planning, we can set the stage for transit-supportive development in the four station areas.