SCHERERVILLE — U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Merrillville, told a public forum Sunday night the expansion of the South Shore commuter rail system is one of the keys to Northwest Indiana's economic future.
"Young people in many instances do not stay. We need investments to change that."
He said that includes Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District's applications for federal aid to add a second track between Gary and Michigan City to speed commutes to and from Chicago and extend its line south from Hammond to Dyer.
Most Lake County communities are contributing to the local share of that cost, including the town of Schererville, which last year agreed to 10 percent of its share of the county economic development income tax.
"These transformational investments are being made in Northwest Indiana to grow our economy and keep good paying jobs to our area. I will work to ensure they are approved at the federal level," Visclosky said.
Visclosky added, "We are not making a sufficient investment in our economic infrastructure. About 16 percent of the major roads in Indiana are in poor condition and 1,944 bridges are deficient.
"We need to make an investment and pay for it now and not borrow the money and past the cost into the next generation," he said, adding that more progress is needed in creating regional bus services.
He spent much of his forum addressing future concerns regarding the proposed policies of President-elect Donald Trump and the incoming 115th Congress.
"I will continue to work hard to find areas of commonality and agreements so we can move positive programs ahead. And when I think there are proposals that will be detrimental to the Northwest Indiana, to vigorously oppose them," he said.
He also addressed Social Security, Medicare and job losses oversees.
Visclosky said he opposes extending the retirement age or reducing benefits. He supports ending an income cap on paying Social Security taxes so highly paid executives pay a larger share of the revenue.
He said he agrees to a review of the North American Free Trade Act and opposes the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal that he thinks puts American workers at a disadvantage with other nation's industries that don't have to deal with environmental restrictions and costs.
He said he will oppose public works projects that don't ensure American products are used in their construction.