Representatives Michael Ayelsworth and Jim Pressel toured the Chesapeake and Indiana Railroad Tuesday near Thomaston and Hanna in LaPorte County to view firsthand the work in progress to repair and upgrade the rail line that is used to move millions of bushels of grain grown in northwest Indiana to major markets. Improvements currently under way include installing 4,800 new railroad ties and, later this fall, work will begin to replace two timber bridges with culverts. In addition, CKIN will also expand capacity for more traffic by installing a new mile-long siding at Thomaston. This siding will better handle CKIN’s growing business with Norfolk Southern. The improvements to the railroad are made possible, in part, by a $300,000 matching Industrial Rail Service Fund grant that will contribute to a total of $600,000 in improvements planned for the CKIN railroad, which spans across Union Mills, La Crosse and Malden, Ind. The funds are crucial in maintaining the railroad line that moves grain from northwest Indiana to major U.S. markets for Co-Alliance – the largest grain co-op in the state. This business is critical to the agricultural communities in LaPorte, Porter, and Starke Counties. Ayelsworth and Pressel each provided letters of support during the grant process, which is administered through the Indiana Department of Transportation. The businesses that use the railroad touch both Ayelsworth’s and Pressel’s district. In addition to the grant funding, CKIN will also invest $300,000 and additional funding to cover the cost of improvement for the bridges and culverts. CKIN operates and maintains the railroad under a 20-year agreement with the Town of North Judson, which owns the line. The improvements are expected to be completed by this fall.