Market Access & Transportation Infrastructure
Northwest Indiana offers the best of both worlds: Access to Chicago, the third largest metropolitan economy in the U.S., while taking advantage of Indiana’s stellar business climate. Our location and comprehensive infrastructure and transportation network allows companies to companies to quickly and efficiently deliver and distribute products to customers worldwide at minimal cost.
Class I Freight Railroads
- Three Class I railroads – Norfolk Southern, Canadian National and CSX – serve the region along with short line and regional carriers. Northwest Indiana has access to all of the Class I railroads through the Chicago network.
- Northwest Indiana possesses a dense, heavily traveled rail network. More than 700 miles of active rail crosses through the region, 557 of which are active mainline. Rail carries 16% of the freight moved in the region.
- The CSX and NS mainlines, in particular, are two of the most heavily traveled rail lines in the country, each averaging more than 100 million gross ton miles.
- In addition to the Class I rail lines, a network of short line and regional railroads serve local industry and provide short haul, switching and terminal operations.
- Along with freight trains, both interstate and commuter passenger trains operate throughout Northwest Indiana.
The Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor provides ocean access to ‘America’s Heartland’ on two of the largest inland waterways in the world. The deepwater port is just 18 nautical miles from Chicago – close to the city’s massive market and transportation connections, but outside of its major congestion – providing tremendous competitive advantages for companies that ship steel, grain, minerals, fertilizer, heavy-lift cargo and oversized equipment via multiple transportation modes.
Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor handles international ships via the St. Lawrence Seaway connecting the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean, and provides year-round barge access to more than 20 states and the Gulf of Mexico through the Inland Waterways System. The port supports Great Lakes bulk carriers up to 1,000 feet in length and ocean vessels capable of transiting the locks on the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Seaway system. All of the major shipping lines that serve the Great Lakes call on the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor.
- Year-round barge access to the world via the Saint Lawrence Seaway or the Mississippi River.
- Multimodal connections to an extensive ground transportation network just minutes from Chicago.
- The Port contains a Foreign Trade Zone with expanded coverage to eligible businesses in all of Northwest Indiana.
The Gary/Chicago International Airport, located just 25 miles from downtown Chicago is a full-service airport and a convenient destination for corporate executives, global logistics companies and weekend flyers in the Chicago metropolitan region and northwest Indiana. In 2015, the Gary/Chicago International Airport completed a $174.1 million runway expansion, lengthening the main runway to 8,900 feet, allowing it to accommodate almost any larger-sized plane.
The Porter County Regional Airport features a 7,000-foot runway, larger than that of Midway Airport, and is located outside the Chicago Class B air space, which allows for easy arrival and departures.
With the country’s most traveled interstates and U.S. highways passing through Northwest Indiana, our manufacturing, warehousing and distribution centers take advantage of a one-day drive by truck to more than 80 percent of the U.S. population.
- Interstate 65 runs south to north through Northwest Indiana from Jasper County through to its northern national terminus in Gary at I-90 which is carried on the Indiana East–West Toll Road.
- Interstate 94 enters Indiana from Illinois as a ten-lane interstate and runs for 45 miles through the state before entering Michigan. The landscape traversed by I-94 include urban areas, wooded areas, and farmland.
- Interstate 80/90, also known as the Indiana Toll Road, is a tolled highway running east to west across the northernmost part of Indiana, which is also a part of the New York–Chicago toll-road system.
COMMUTER RAIL SYSTEM
The existing South Shore Line provides a vital transportation link that connects Northwest Indiana to Chicago. The South Shore Line has proposed projects including the expansion from a single track to double track between Gary and Michigan City as well as a southern branch extension of the existing South Shore Line to reach high-growth areas in Lake County.