The Little Calumet River Basin Development Commission was created in 1980 by the Indiana General Assembly to serve as the required local sponsor for the Little Calumet River, Indiana Flood Control and Recreation Project. The Federal project, which was authorized for construction in the 1986 Water Resources Development Act, is designed to provide structural flood protection up to the 200-year level along the main channel of the Little Calumet River from the Illinois State Line to Martin Luther King Drive in Gary.
To accomplish this protection, the Federal project is being constructed in eight geographic stages, totaling 29 construction contracts. To maximize participation of local contractors and minority/disadvantaged businesses, a 40 percent goal for contracting and labor participation was proposed by the Development Commission and adopted by the Army Corps of Engineers.
Project features include:
- Construction of over 9.7 miles of set-back levees in Gary and Griffith.
- Construction of 12.2 miles of levees and floodwalls in Hammond, Highland, and Munster.
- Installation of a flow diversion structure at the Hart Ditch confluence in Hammond/Munster.
- Modification of four major highway bridges along the river corridor to permit better flow.
- Creation of 16.8 miles of hiking/biking trails connecting recreational developments.
Direct project benefits:
- Protect 3,500 acres of existing residential, commercial, industrial and transportation, uses from flooding.
- Protect over 9,500 structures from flooding, of which 8,755 are residences.
- Create a 2,000 acre river/recreation corridor system
- Protect major public/state investments such as Indiana University Northwest Campus and I-80/94 (Borman Expressway) from costly flooding damages.
- Bring over $65 million in federal construction/improvement contracts to Northwest Indiana.
- Allow over 1,500 acres of presently marginal land to be reclaimed for economic development uses along the urbanized Borman corridor.
Preceding the Development Commission in the early planning and engineering studies of the river were a Governor’s Study Committee in the 1970 and the Little Calumet River Basin Commission – a planning group made up of representatives of the communities/counties within the river drainage basin and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (1971-1973).