Officials in Gary, Ind., hope the groundbreaking on a $153 million expansion for the Gary/Chicago International Airport will begin a new era of increased use and economic benefits.
Mayor Rudy Clay and dozens of local leaders on Wednesday dug shovels into the ground for the ceremonial start of the project. Construction crews will expand the main runway to make the airport accessible to larger planes.
"It will generate thousands and thousands of jobs," said Clay.
Up to 539,000 passengers could be flying in and out of the airport if major carriers provide more service, the Northwest Indiana Times reported. In 2010 there were 33,613 flights.
"We’re not only talking about commercial airlines. We’re talking about freight, we’re talking about cargo,” said Clay.
The construction project will also include new railroad lines, bridges and roads. Clay said it's part of a new vision for his city.
"It’s about expanding our horizons and making a better quality of life for the people here in Northwest Indiana," he said.