- Associated Press - Friday, March 17, 2017

PORTAGE, Ind. (AP) - Two train projects in northwest Indiana could lose significant federal funding under President Donald Trump’s proposed budget.

The budget issued by Trump’s administration Thursday calls for substantial cuts in federal spending, including to the Department of Transportation, The (Northwest Indiana) Times (https://bit.ly/2mAbMQZ ) reported. The cuts would eliminate the program that would provide funds for the South Shore Line’s West Lake Corridor and Double Track NWI projects.

The proposal limits funding in the Federal Transit Administration’s Capital Investment Grant program to projects that already have full funding grant agreements. Neither of the projects in northwest Indiana has reached that level.

Recent cost estimates show the West Lake project would require more than $300 million in federal funds and the Double Track project would require about $145 million.

Reaction from Congressmen have generally ranged from cautious to hostile, with many Republicans joining Democrats in opposing parts of Trump’s plan.

U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Merrillville, anticipated a threat to the program and has testified before House committees twice in recent weeks to argue in favor of the transportation grants.

“I strongly support the initiative in the Indiana General Assembly,” he told the House Appropriations Committee on March 9. “But it will all be for naught if the Capital Investment Grant program is not adequately funded.”

He said the Indiana Legislature has made ongoing efforts to fund the train projects.

“Reducing funding for this critical program would be counterproductive to our goal as federal representatives to support jobs and economic development.”

Proposed cuts to the transportation department would total $2.4 billion, or 13 percent of the department’s discretionary funds.

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Information from: The Times, https://www.nwitimes.com

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