Chelsea Schneider, Municipal Innovations Specialist

Munster is charting the course for its future amid plans for major infrastructure projects, including a proposed commuter rail expansion.

That’s prompted leaders of the Northwest Indiana town to explore a complex question. What will Munster look like in the next 10, 20 and 30 years?

One thing is for certain: The level of change being proposed is significant, Town Manager Dustin Anderson said.

The town is delving into land use planning with the anticipation of the South Shore Line eventually extending south through Munster. Also in the works is a $36 million realignment project at a traffic chokepoint. Once complete, the project at 45th Street and Calumet Avenue is expected to draw retailers to the town’s new Centennial Village, which will feature a hotel and mixed-use residential and commercial developments.

In planning the road project, the Indiana Department of Transportation’s vision and support for the community has been key, Anderson said.

“You will see a dramatic increase in transportation fluidity,” Anderson said of the project expected to begin in 2018. “Right now at any given time, transportation north-south in the Region is a mess, and that’s going to be significantly alleviated with this project. We will see the development at Centennial Village really take off.”

Going forward, Munster is placing an emphasis on pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure – a key feature of the Centennial Village project, Anderson said. The town also is reinvesting in its numerous neighborhood parks and working on trail connections.

“It’s unique in a town that is really only 7 square miles to have the diversity of public open space and active recreational space that we have here,” Anderson said. “People choose Munster first and foremost for our schools. We have fantastic schools. But they stay because of the services and the quality of life. The schools get them through the door, but the rest of the town gets them to stay here.”

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