South Bend mayor wants commuter rail to run downtown

The mayor of South Bend is pushing for a downtown relocation of a commuter railroad that runs between the northern Indiana city and Chicago.

Mayor Pete Buttigieg told the Common Council on Monday that he plans to pursue bringing the South Shore Line downtown by 2025, despite the location's much costlier price.

South Bend residents "at every level of our economic ladder" would have more opportunities "if the heart of our city was 90 minutes away by train from the heart of one of the most dynamic economic centers in the world," Buttigieg said.

The city's redevelopment commission voted last year to spend $25 million in tax increment financing district property tax money to build a new station. The line currently ends at the station at South Bend International Airport on the city's northwest side.

The mayor said bringing the train downtown could cost about $100 million, but the location is the option with the highest benefit. He said he's still unclear how he would fund the station.

"BUILD grants, formerly known as TIGR grants, could be mobilized for something like this. Possibly other federal grant opportunities we haven't looked at and the state has become an increasingly proactive economic partner," he said. "As we prove out the physical viability of this option, I think it would also make sense to go back to the state and see if they want to participate too."

South Shore President Michael Noland said he is considering the mayor's recommendation. Buttigieg said he will next hire a firm to study the design and engineering of a downtown route option.

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