2017-2018 Review Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission

Regional Planning

NWI 2050 Plan

in 2018 NIRPC began work on updating its long-range plan. The first round of public engagement occurred in April where the vision and goals of the 2040 Plan were again confirmed by the public. The engagement effort resulted in sixteen critical paths to achieve the four vision statements of the NWI 2050 Plan. The public was also engaged in August, September, and October on the influences of the future, and also investment priorities for the Region to pursue. In the fall, work began on setting up a new programmatic framework for transportation investments under the NWI 2050 Plan. Thirteen investment programs were identified and ranked against how they impact the sixteen critical paths. In addition, a new set of project selection criteria were established to review individual projects. This programmatic framework and project selection criteria will guide the 2020-2024 and future Transportation Improvement Programs (TIP).

Creating Livable Communities

In 2017, under NIRPC’s Creating Livable Communities (CLC) program, all of the seven CLC projects were completed within the downtown areas (livable centers) of Chesterton, Crown Point, East Chicago, Gary, Highland, Porter, and Winfield. In 2018, the CLC “Main Centers” featured strongly in the new project selection criteria for the NWI 2050 Plan and 2020-2024 TIP, providing bonus points for proposed projects located in and supporting the improvement of Main Centers throughout the Region.

Marquette Action Plan

NIRPC continued to work on the Marquette Action Plan, the fourth iteration of the plan. The plan identifies land across our region’s lakefront that can be feasibly transformed into new publicly-accessible areas for conservation, recreation, amenities, and livable communities. The plan provides recommendations to further the vision of an open and accessible lakefront for all. In June of 2018, the Plan was completed.

The “IN” Coast

NWI Food Council

NIRPC continues to support the advancement of the local food system movement through the NWI Food Council. The Council’s mission is to build a just, sustainable, and thriving locally-oriented food system for all in our region. On March 15, 2017, over 180 community members came together for the Council’s first FED: Food Expo & Discussion regional event to connect, learn and inspire one another to grow and use local, sustainable food and understand its connections to the local economy and our transportation system. The inaugural FarmHop; local farm tours, on September 23, 2017, featured four separate tours of 16 diverse urban and rural local farms in Lake, Porter, LaPorte, and Jasper counties. Participants gained a new appreciation for agriculture, agritourism, and the diversity of our region. In addition, a series of casual Meet-Ups were held across the region as an opportunity to discuss food related topics.

During 2018, the second annual FED: Food Expo & Discussions regional event was held on February 23rd with over 200 community members participating. The theme focused on food justice and social inequity in the food system of Northwest Indiana with various expert-led workshops covering food access and transportation, farms-to-schools, soil conservation, alternative resources, funding for food projects and marketing for food entrepreneurs.

The 2nd annual FarmHop was held on August 11 and September 22 highlighting a series of farm tours around the 7 counties of Northwest Indiana. Nearly 20 farms were featured on this years FarmHop tours, from rural to urban, organic to conventional. A variety of workshops and events were held to further educate on farm and food business and policies and land access. The NWI Food Council also received a series of grants to further advance the food system in Northwest Indiana. The grants include:

  • Farm Tool Library - $10,000 SIA Foundation (Subaru of Indiana Automotive) - To provide access to farm tools, equipment and support small farms throughout NWI.
  • Lake County Eats Local - $226,119 (USDA Farmers Market Promotion Program - In partnership with Legacy Foundation and Purdue Extension Lake County to create greater food access in Lake County.
  • Farm Connect - $515,448 (USDA Local Food Promotion Program) - In partnership and lead by Indiana University and Purdue University to improve local food supply chains throughout Indiana via value-chain coordinators, one-on-one wholesale training for farmers, establish aggregators and assist with FSMA compliance.
Connecting with the Land

Regional land use planning

NIRPC continued to support regional land use through the Land Use Committee and provided education, guidance, and knowledge to local governments that promoted the integration of land use and transportation planning. NIRPC converted the current regional land use data to a parcel-based data using GIS. NIRPC also digitized missing existing land use data using GIS and Google Maps.

Regional Corridor Study

In 2017, NIRPC completed the Regional Corridor Study (RCS) that examines the overall regional "grid" and distance between access points along limited access highways. The study identifies 22 road segments whose completion would greatly improve connectivity within our region. The NIRPC transportation team established a process for the RCS next steps and coordinated a meeting to discuss the extension of Main Street in Munster to Joe Orr Road in Illinois, and 109th in St. John to the Illinois side. All the affected agencies’ elected officials from Munster, Dyer, St. John, Lansing, Lynwood and South Suburban Mayors and Managers Association were invited to coordinate the next steps of the roads extension. Main St. was specifically prioritized for a number of reasons. It ranked first onthe RCS priority list and it was recommended in the Westlake Corridor TOD Plan to be extended to the Illinois border. The transportation team provided technical assistance and conducted traffic projection for Main Street through transportation modeling to investigate the possibilities to build the road in the future with either two-lanes with a continuous left turn lane option or four, two-way lanes.

Regional Collaboration for Regional Mobility

Congestion Management Process and travel demand modeling

A transportation team member attended the Transportation Research Board’s 96th Annual Meeting in Washington, DC to refine and improve travel demand modeling skills and techniques. Travel time data from cell phones and GPS devices was collected and processed through a newly available Federal Highway Administration contract which will improve our knowledge of congestion and reliability to help our region and its Congestion Management Process. In addition, the transportation team provided modeling support to the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District to project ridership and traffic impacts expected to result from the Double Tracking and West Lake Corridor projects upon anticipated opening in 2022. The team also led the Interagency Consultation Group on Air Quality in demonstrating that the region’s 2018-2021 Transportation Improvement Program conforms to the Indiana State Implementation Plan.

Staff partnered with a Valparaiso University data science class to research reliability and congestion trends based on probe data sourced from mobile phones and in-vehicle GPS devices. These results helped prepare NIRPC to set targets for the reliability and congestion performance measures. Also, NIRPC managed a consultant-led effort update the Air Quality Post Processor that now directly interfaces with the NIRPC Travel Demand Model. This will save NIRPC about two weeks each time NIRPC is required to demonstrate Air Quality Conformity.

Cross-state coordination

Following the principles of the Wingspread Accord signed by NIRPC and the three Metropolitan Planning Organizations of southeast Wisconsin, northeast Illinois, and southwest Michigan, there have been increased meetings by the Executive Directors of these agencies to enhance cross-state collaboration. NIRPC continues to participate in meetings and coordinate on joint planning work across state lines. In 2018, the four regional agencies applied for a National Economic Partnership grant offered by FHWA to study truck routing in our mega-region.

Household travel survey

The transportation team collaborated with the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning on beginning a household travel survey that will cover all of Chicagoland in addition to our region. The household travel survey will launch in 2018 and be the first household travel survey since 2008, achieving a 40% cost savings from the previous survey by utilizing the latest technology through a smartphone app.

NIRPC managed a contract with the nationally recognized firm Westat to collect household travel survey data from over 1,600 households. The data will be used to better inform NIRPC and the public about the travel patterns that occur on an everyday basis in NW Indiana as well as assist NIRPC in technical analyses and planning work products.

Transit coordination

In 2017, NIRPC worked closely with GPTC and local communities to form the Lakeshore South Forum. This group was able to facilitate a conversation leading to a short-term funding solution to prevent the closure of the Lakeshore South bus route and assist in long-term funding solutions for transit in Lake County. The transportation team, working with the Transit Operator’s Roundtable was able to kick-off the development of a new project selection process that is compatible with FTA’s Transit Asset Management requirements.

In 2018, NIRPC worked closely with transit operators, human service partners, and members of the public to deliver several accomplishments. The largest undertaking was the completion of the Coordinated Human Services Public Transportation Plan or “Coordinated Plan.” This plan is a federal requirement in order to receive funding which provides resources for eligible transit operators to improve the mobility for people who have disabilities, people who are elderly, and people who are low income. In addition to meeting the baseline federal requirements, the intended outcome of the Coordinated Plan was to examine the transportation needs of Northwestern Indiana as a whole. This plan addresses who in our region need transportation the most, and where do they need to go; and outlines priorities for transit funding.

NIRPC also completed a Transit Asset Management (TAM) plan for its subrecipients. TAM plans are a federal requirement to assist transit operators with a working technical document to plan, schedule, and maintain assets that are necessary to their services. A TAM plan provides a detailed set of priorities to ensure the most critical parts of a transit operator’s services are able to maintain serviceable standards even if funding is severely limited.

Both the Coordinated Plan and the TAM plan were used in the development of a new project selection process. This new process leveraged strategies in each document to incentivize creating efficiencies within Northwestern Indiana’s transit system. Additionally, priorities that received significant public support were given priority for funding in the new scoring process.

Urban core assistance

NIRPC provided technical assistance to local communities by partnering to successfully implement brownfield funded projects in the region, serving on on steering committees, and assisting with planning efforts.

During 2018, NIRPC continued to provide technical assistance to local committees by serving on vital steering committees and and planning processes. NIRPC staff served on the Michigan City 2040 Comprehensive Plan steering committee.

Project planning

Intelligent Transportation Systems

The transportation team provided the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and its partner the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center with an Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) strategy to disseminate knowledge of parking space availability at various beach access sites in the park in order to improve traffic flow and visitor experience.

Staff drafted Influences and Trends as part of the 2050 Plan development that will likely shape the future of NW Indiana, with technology such as shared mobility and connected and autonomous vehicles playing a major role. Staff received feedback for these influences and trends at public pop-up events and NIRPC committee meetings. These emerging technologies including Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) helped guide NIRPC to naming New Chances in a New Frontier as one of the 3 branded scenarios in the 2050 Plan.

Leveraging federal aid – TIGER Grant application for the Marquette Greenway

NIRPC submitted an ambitious federal grant application to fund the remaining 30 miles of the 58-mile Marquette Greenway from Chicago, IL to New Buffalo, MI. The proposal was submitted under the Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) program administered by the U.S. Department of Transportation. The federal request equaled $23 million, and would be distributed to 13 government entities in the three-state project area. An analysis demonstrated over 130,000 residents would reside within a mile and half of the trail, including over 60,000 employed within this corridor. The application was supported by 74 stakeholders, including all levels of government, the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, tourism bureaus and advocacy groups. Unfortunately the BUILD grant process is extremely competitive, and the Marquette Greenway request was not selected. However, NIRPC will continue to submit in subsequent BUILD cycles as they become available, while continuing to leverage funding for unbuilt segments at the state and federal level.

Trail planning

NIRPC participated in the development of the 2017 Indiana Trails Study, being conducted by the Eppley Institute at Indiana University. This study is a follow-up to a landmark 2002 document, with nine major trail systems being studied statewide. During the year, NIRPC helped staff volunteers along the Erie-Lackawanna Trail during four non-consecutive weeks. Participants were asked to take an online survey, and people were targeted off-trail as well for a control group. This report was released in the spring of 2018.

In March of 2018, the NIRPC Commission approved the Greenways+Blueways 2020 Plan (G+B 2020 Plan), which represents an update to the 2007 Greenways & Blueways Plan, and 2010 Ped & Pedal Plan. This document merged both conservation and non-motorized transportation planning into a unified plan highlighting their symbiotic relationships. The G+B 2020 Plan also engages eight major stakeholder groups by strategically targeting their participation towards implementation. In recognition of the G+B 2020 Plan’s landmark approach, as of the end of 2018 it has been recognized for four state and national awards. These include the “Promoting Regionalism” Award from the Indiana Association of Regional Councils; the 2018 Outstanding Planning Project from the Indiana MPO Council; the National Award for Outstanding Overall Achievement from the Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations; and the 2018 Medium Metro Achievement Award from the National Association of Regional Councils.

In 2018, the latest edition of the Greenways+Blueways Map was released. This fourth edition of the document highlights all routes for hiking, bicycling and paddling. These routes primarily are represented by the nearly 170-miles of paved multi-use trails that exist today in Lake, Porter & LaPorte Counties. This latest edition also highlights a number of trails that are slated to be completed by the end of 2019. Going forward, NIRPC plans to release an updated map every two years instead of four, mainly to keep up with the rapid development of non-motorized facilities in NW Indiana. Thanks to several generous sponsors, the map will remain free of charge to the public.

Transit - Westlake Corridor TOD Plan

NIRPC served on the steering committee of the Westlake Corridor Transit Oriented Development (TOD) Plan. The NIRPC 2040 Plan recommends that the region should capitalize on TOD as a transportation asset. The Westlake Corridor TOD is identified within the 2040 Regional Transit Vision. The Creating Livable Communities (CLC) Funding Program supports TOD plans as well within a half mile of transit stop or station. The Westlake Corridor TOD Plan serves to support the funding application to build the rail facilities, and to position the communities of Hammond, Munster, and Dyer for development readiness. The purpose of the plan is to create customized station area TOD plans that will enhance the quality of life of existing residents and promote economic development potential. It will strengthen a vibrant connection between our region and Chicago to bring opportunities for new economic and land development, amenities, public spaces, and jobs.

In 2018, NIRPC participated with the Town of Munster’s Livable Character-Based Code planning process.

South Shore (NWI Times)

US 30 & I-65 Safety Planning Study

In 2017, NIRPC conducted a safety planning study for the surrounding area of I-65 and US 30. NIRPC with the consultants conducted three workshops to solicit input on the project at the Southlake Mall. The study identifies key recommendations and policies as well as priority areas of focus for future improvements and implementations. The plan includes five phases of planned projects for implementations and connectivity of the roadway that need early and ongoing coordination between Merrillville, Hobart, INDOT and NIRPC.

Ratio Design

Project investments

Transportation Improvement Program development and management

In 2017, the transportation team completed the project selection process for the FY 2018-2021 TIP. This process provides the opportunity for local communities and transit providers to apply for funding to support their ongoing transportation programming over the next four years. The prior FY 2016-2019, TIP in effect for the first half of 2017, was amended or modified 7 times during 2017. There were 291 different changes made to individual project listings. This TIP reached a new record in terms of total dollars invested ($1.4 billion) and number of individual project phases at 1,040.

In 2018, the development of the FY 2020-2024 TIP began with a significant overhaul to the programming and project selection process. For the first time in NIRPC history all $267 million of funding allocated to our Region will programmed all at once, demonstrating our commitment to leveraging all the federal-aid we receive.

Transportation Improvement Program development and management

In 2018, the transportation team began the project selection process for the FY 2020-2024 TIP. This process provides the opportunity for local communities and transit providers to apply for funding to support their ongoing transportation programming over the next five years. The prior FY 2018-2021 TIP was amended 7 times and was modified 12 times during 2018. There were approximately 235 different changes made to individual project listings.

Surface Transportation Projects

In fiscal year 2018, the federal government allocated $176,304,538 for projects in Lake, Porter and LaPorte Counties. These projects had a variety of sponsors, including Indiana Department of Transportation, counties, municipalities, transit operators, and NIRPC. The following graph shows the general type of projects that these funds were spent on. In general, obligated funds were spent in seven different areas:

  • Bridges
  • Bike / Pedestrian Facilities
  • Intersection Improvements
  • Pavement
  • Traffic
  • Small Structures (culverts, pipes)
  • Transit
  • Other miscellaneous projects

Bicycling, paddling and pedestrian trails

During 2017, a number of trail projects were completed. On land, the long-awaited connection between the Oak Savannah and Erie-Lackawanna Trails was finished in Griffith. This 2-mile route provides a safe, off-road link between the two longest trails in our region. Also, a 3.9-mile section of the Little Calumet Levee Trail was paved in 2017, which is in addition to the 5.3-miles paved last year. A gap of approximately 3.3-miles remain between these paved segments. On water, thanks to the hard work of the Northwest Indiana Paddling Association, eight-miles of the East Branch of the Little Calumet River has been opened up for paddling. Since 1985 this stretch was heavily choked with trees and debris. Plans are to extend this system to State Route 149.

In 2018, two major projects were completed along the Marquette Greenway corridor. These included a half-mile section of trail from the Hammond Marina west to the Illinois State Line, where it connects to a frontage road in the City of Chicago. This exciting new connection now affords trail users a safe passage between the two states and links to two major regional parks (Whiting Lakefront and Calumet Park). The other notable project is the new bridge over Calumet Avenue at Wolf Lake. This Hammond-led initiative provides a critical grade separated gateway for pedestrians and bicycles, and links two major trails running east into Whiting, and west around the lake. The bridge also serves as a significant landmark with Frank Lloyd Wright inspired design elements and neon backlighting.

Further progress was achieved in Hammond with the installation of city-wide trail signage, or wayfinding. These enhancements include signs identifying streets, destinations, directions with distances and mile markers. NIRPC is working with communities along both the Erie-Lackawanna and Prairie-Duneland Trails on installing similar wayfinding elements in the summer of 2019.


NIRPC completed several smaller more routine pieces of its transit program. 2018 marked another year negotiating a successful federal funding split with Illinois through the Regional Transit Authority. These funds were later successfully split among local direct and subrecipients of federal transit funding, and secured into grants for another year of operating transit. The FTA apportionment for transit investments was $800,000 above NIRPC’s estimate for FY 2017. NIRPC also provided as-needed technical support to the operators, including a financial analysis used to determine the feasibility of small operators switching their NTD reporting status and how 5307 funding may be affected. NIRPC assisted Portage and Hobart with the completion of their respective transit studies. Portage is considering rolling out a new transit service using CMAQ funds in 2021. Hobart developed a supplementary planning document to try and implement service earlier. Major transit expansion projects included in the TIP were the NICTD West Lake expansion, the double tracking of the South Shore, and GPTC's Livable Broadway Bus Rapid Transit Program.

Transportation Administration and Governance

FTA Triennial Review

NIRPC completed its Triennial Review, a comprehensive review of NIRPC’s transit-related programming and oversight administered by FTA, and passed with flying colors.

MPO Re-certification Review

NIRPC completed its Planning Recertification review of our planning processes by FTA and FHWA. Only a few comments and one correction to our planning process were noted.

Performance-based planning

A member of the transportation team was the only Metropolitan Planning Organization in the State of Indiana to attend the US Federal Highway Administration’s Transportation Performance Management Implementation Workshop in Raleigh, NC and reported lessons learned at the 2017 Indiana MPO Conference hosted by NIRPC.

Staff drafted a Performance-based Planning (PbP) Framework that will guide the development of the 2050 Plan as well as establish a basis for future NIRPC planning activities. The PbP Framework is based on a combination of meeting the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and Federal Transit Administration (FTA) requirements for Performance-based Planning as well as fitting into the 16 critical paths identified in the 2050 Plan development. The NIRPC Commission also adopted the FHWA required Performance Measure Targets in collaboration with the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT), the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), and the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP).

Transportation investment tracking

NIRPC successfully procured E-TIP software from Eco-Interactive, a software company located in California. It was named it RTIP (Region Transportation Improvement Program). RTIP is a web based interactive software which will house NIRPC’s TIP going forward. This software will be linked to INDOT’s Schedule Program Management Program (SPMS) and STIP, giving much more accuracy and productivity to both programs. The software offers communication tools and project tracking that were previously unavailable. With this software addition, NIRPC can be more effective, efficient and transparent to local stakeholders and the general public in the TIP planning process.

Title VI technical assistance

In 2017, NIRPC successfully submitted the Title VI Plan to FTA in March. NIRPC continues to monitor and provide technical assistance to communities and Local Public Agencies in meeting Title VI requirements.

Unified Planning Work Program (UPWP) development and management

The UPWP continues to serve as a practical game plan for addressing the transportation planning issues of the region according to local priorities. NIRPC updated the UPWP to include the 2017 Planning Emphasis Areas (PEAs) issued by FHWA-IN and FTA and other significant projects. The PEAs include performance-based planning requirements and Title VI program management. In 2018, a new two-year UPWP was proposed and approved by the Commission. The 2019-2020 UPWP was reformatted to more clearly link tasks back to the long-range plan.

Advancing Environmental Excellence

Air Quality Public Education

The NIRPC Air Quality Public Education program has continued many long-standing activities throughout 2017. Over 1,000 non-emission generating gas cans were exchanged in partnership with the county solid waste management districts at household hazardous waste collection events throughout the region. NIRPC staff distributed insulated lunch totes with educational materials about the environmental benefits of avoiding idling in drive-thru lines. South Shore Clean Cities continues to lead and implement our NWI Green Fleets program. Green Fleets has grown to 18 participating organizations, including many municipalities. Participants receive access to educational workshops, training, and technical support to reduce the environmental impact and energy costs of operating vehicle fleets. NIRPC’s Environmental educator brought a breath of fresh air to the program, integrating air quality education with new outreach activities for kids related to bicycle safety and promotion of non-motorized transportation. NIRPC partnered with GPTC and East Chicago Transit to produce educational pocket transit route maps and with Take Bike the Streets to promote bicycle education.


In partnership with the Regional Development Authority (RDA), NIRPC also co-administers two US EPA Grants totalling $1.4 Million on behalf of the the Northwest Indiana Brownfields Coalition which includes the cities of Gary, Hammond, and East Chicago. The Coalition closed out a $600,000 assessment grant during the fall of 2018. Overall this grant funded 24 Phase I Environmental Site Assessments, 6 Phase II Environmental Site Assessments, and two clean-up planning projects resulting in further clean up planning and remediation work with the Indiana Brownfield Program. Several of these projects have resulted in applications to the Coalition’s Brownfield Revolving Loan Fund grant. 444 acres of land in the Gary 12/20 corridor planned for Transit Oriented and Light Industrial Development were screened for potential environmental issues. At the close of the grant, these funds have already enabled two commercial redevelopment projects in East Chicago and a new residential development in Hammond to move forward.The coalition estimates that this funding has leveraged over $20 Million of economic value for the region.

The NWI Brownfield Coalition continues to have available $700,000 in the Brownfield Revolving Loan Fund, with over $2 Million in potential projects in various stages of eligibility determination and application for redevelopment supporting clean-up projects. On April 25th, 2018 NIRPC co-hosted a Brownfield Redevelopment Workshop with the Northwest Indiana Forum to help transfer the lessons we have learned through this project throughout the region.

Looking forward to 2020, NIRPC will partner again with the RDA and the Northwest Indiana Forum Foundation to apply for new Brownfield Assessment dollars to create a Greater Northwest Indiana Brownfield Coalition. The new coalition will continue to support urban core reinvestment, while also making assessment funds available to other communities throughout the region.


Since 2017, through partnerships with the US Forest Service, Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) Community and Urban Forestry Program, the IDNR Lake Michigan Coastal Program, and NIPSCO NIRPC has implemented two $100,000 Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Grant which provided approximately 700 trees to 18 communities and partners. The project also sponsored four workshops on tree care, urban tree inventories, and tree care ordinances. Thanks to NIRPC and our committed partners, the Communitree program has been so successful an additional $100,000 was secured to take into 2020.

Portage Burns Waterway Initiative

In 2017 the Indiana Department of Environmental Management approved the Deep River-Portage Burns Waterway Watershed Management Plan completed by staff in 2016. This allowed NIRPC to initiate a cost-share program to encourage implementation of best management practices to improve water quality throughout this watershed which stretches from Winfield and Crown Point to Portage Lakefront Park. Through a subsequent IDEM 319 Watershed Implementation Grant, NIRPC has been able to provide over $86,000 in federal cost-share dollars to four projects with the City of Hobart, Town of Merrillville, and a private farmer. Cumulatively, these projects will result in over 1000 TONS per year in sediment load reduction, 1,700 lbs/year phosphorus and 3,390 lbs of nitrogen load reduction to Lake George and the Deep River.

Environmental Technical Assistance

NIRPC environmental staff participate in a wide variety of region partnerships and projects, providing technical assistance in areas related to water quality, air quality, conservation action and habitat planning, transportation planning, and geographic information system.

Early Coordination Environmental Review of Local Transportation Projects

NIRPC continues to invest staff time and transportation planning funds in providing environmental review and red flag investigation services to local projects in an effort to help streamline environmental aspects of project development. 17 early coordination projects and 3 red flag investigations were supported.

Conservation and Watershed Partnerships

  • Calumet Land Conservation Partnership
  • Lake Michigan Coastal Program, conservation action planning
  • Trail Creek Watershed Partnership
  • LaPorte County Soil & Water Conservation District, Kabelin Drain Watershed Diagnostic Study
  • Northwest Indiana Septic System Working Group, septic system mapping
  • Indiana Department of Environmental Management, Citizens Advisory for Remediation of the Environment Committee

CommuniTree Program

  • 697 native trees awarded through the Community Grant Program
  • 18 communities or public organizations awarded trees through the Community Grant Program
  • 4 workshops held covering topics such as tree care, urban tree inventories, and tree care ordinances

Deep River Watershed Initiative Cost-Share Program

  • City of Hobart, 4th Place Ravine Stabilization Project #1, awarded $25,000, load reductions: 0.4 t/yr sediment, 0.2 lb/yr phosphorus, 0.6 lb/yr nitrogen
  • City of Hobart, 4th Place Ravine Stabilization Project #2, awarded $11,400, load reductions: 0.4 t/yr sediment, 0.2 lb/yr phosphorus, 0.6 lb/yr nitrogen
  • Town of Merrillville, Massachusetts Street Project, awarded $45,000, load reductions: 0.4 t/yr sediment, 0.2 lb/yr phosphorus, 0.6 lb/yr nitrogen
  • Farmer, Equipment Modification- Cover Crop Interseeder, awarded $5,000, load reductions: 1,135 t/yr sediment, 1,696 lb/yr phosphorus, 3,388 lb/yr nitrogen

Total water quality benefits (estimated pollutant load reduction):

over 1,135 t/yr sediment

over 1,700 lb/yr phosphorus

over 3,390 lb/yr nitrogen

Early Coordination Environmental Review

  • 17 early coordination transportation projects reviewed
  • 3 Red Flag Investigations completed highlighting potential environmental impacts

Technical Assistance

  • Calumet Land Conservation Partnership, conservation action planning
  • Lake Michigan Coastal Program, conservation action planning
  • Trail Creek Watershed Partnership
  • Deep River Watershed Initiative
  • LaPorte County Soil & Water Conservation District, Kabelin Drain Watershed Diagnostic Study
  • Northwest Indiana Septic System Working Group, septic system mapping
  • Indiana Department of Environmental Management, Citizens Advisory for Remediation of the Environment Committee
  • CommuniTree Program
Founders Square, Portage

Regional Economic Development Initiatives

LaPorte Revolving Loan Fund

NIRPC continues to operate the LaPorte Revolving Loan Fund, a program originally initiated over 20 years ago with a grant from the Economic Development Association. The RLF is designed to provide small business loans for the purpose of maintaining and increasing economic diversity in LaPorte County. During 2018 the LaPorte RLF made two working capital loans to long time region dining institutions totalling $105,000 and has a balance of approximately $130,000 in hand for future projects.

Economic Development District Designation

Following many years of adjusting to changes in Federal regulations, NIRPC completed submission of materials for designation as an Economic Development District from the U.S. Economic Development Administration. The long-sought designation will open the doors to additional funding for economic development-related infrastructure and other investments in Northwest Indiana that have not been previously available.

“Igniting” the Region

NIRPC was a major participant in the development of Ignite the Region: A Regional Strategy for Economic Transformation, a region-wide economic strategic plan spearheaded by our partners at the Northwest Indiana Forum. NIRPC is identified as a key lead in the strategic plan for such initiatives as the aforementioned Economic Development District, brownfields identification, and support and guidance for Transit Oriented Development, and placemaking initiatives.

Building Staffing Capacity for Community Assistance

NIRPC designated a staff person to receive certification as a grant administrator through the State of Indiana’s Office of Community and Rural Affairs, which was achieved just as 2018 came to a close following rigorous examination. The certification will enable NIRPC to be of even greater service to its municipalities through the pursuit of CDBG and other funding.

Financial Summary

Audit Summaries

The annual audit of NIRPC’s accounting and financial management system in 2017 for the period ending December 31, 2016 resulted in no findings, comments or disallowed costs. Further, a Comprehensive Annual Financial Report was completed for this period. NIRPC qualified for a Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting, the highest form of recognition in governmental accounting and financial reporting, according to the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA).

The annual audit for the fiscal year ending December 31, 2017 of NIRPC’s accounting and financial management system did not find any material misstatements resulting from improper accounting or violation laws and regulations. NIRPC was qualified as a low-risk auditee, with only a couple of minor findings in the internal control area, related closely related to vacant key positions in the Finance Department during second half of FY 2017; the internal control issues were addressed and corrected in FY 2018.

The total Expenses for FY 2017 added up to $3,029,869, 37% less than budgeted due to several open positions throughout the year and contractual expenses budget but not needed.
As of January 2019, the total Expenses for FY 2018 added up to $ 3,375,481, 10% less than budgeted. (Not all expenses had been paid for FY 2018 at time of this chart.)
Fiscal Year 2017 Year-to-Date Expenditures
Fiscal Year 2018 Year-to-Date Expenditures


Created with images by Steve Johnson - "Michigan City Lighthouse"