LAPORTE — Kingsbury Industrial Park will finally be served by a major rail line.

Efforts lasting more than a decade paid off last week when the LaPorte County Commissioners approved a contract for connecting the park to the CSX Railroad.

Eventually, the plan is to connect the park to another major trunk line owned by Canadian National railroad.

The hope is two Class 1 railroads serving both ends of the park will attract major industries.

“It’s been a long, long haul. We’re glad to see it at this stage,” said LaPorte County Commission president Sheila Matias.

JBC Rail Services will install 4,500 linear feet of track to connect existing rail inside the park to the CSX trunk line, said Matt Reardon of the LaPorte County Office of Economic Development.

“We’re going to connect the dots,” he said.

JBC Rail will also operate a rail spur installed in 2013 for diverting CSX trains to and from the main trunk line once the connection is made.

Reardon said all of the new rail tying into the trunk line could be laid before the end of the year.

“We’re ready to go,” he said.

The work is being assisted by a $1 million grant from the Indiana Economic Development Corp.

Reardon said the connection with Canadian National will happen once financing for that project has been secured.

The industrial park contains 8,000 acres.

Much of the land consists of the Kingsbury Fish and Wildlife Area. Some of the remaining ground is used for things such as light industry, warehousing and farming.

Reardon said about 2,000 acres zoned for heavy manufacturing, warehousing, distribution and trans-loading is available for development.

Originally, the goal for the park was to receive fresh produce from Florida for transfer to trucks for local delivery. A deal with the interested company never materialized, though.

Legal problems between developers and property owners along with matters related to acquiring easements for laying the new track were also factors in holding up the trunk line connection.

Reardon said the park is on the radar screens of developers hesitant to invest until the site is served by a major rail carrier.

“It’s exciting to be at this point,” said LaPorte County attorney Shaw Friedman, a key figure in further developing the park from the beginning.

LaPorte County is spending $6 million toward the cost of developing the rail spur, using funds generated by a TIF district including the site.
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