The New Year's holiday traditionally gives us reason to reflect on changes we want to make in our lives moving forward. It also gives us a chance to recount unfinished business and figure out how we will tackle it in the upcoming year.

A number of key projects, concepts and ideas remain loose ends that region leaders and residents should either tie up or build upon in 2012. The new year also gives us a chance to evaluate our own ideologies and question the end results. Here are some New Year's resolutions we believe deserve action:

• Begin work to extend the runway at the Gary/Chicago International Airport. Most people familiar with local economics and politics realize what a developmental opportunity and catalyst the airport could be for the region economy with increased cargo and transportation capacity.

• Transition the proposed Illiana Expressway off the drafting table and into reality. Another major east-west interstate highway could be an important development boon to the region and provide relief on our existing congested highways. The time for talk is over. We get the concept; now let's build it.

• Let the proposed south Lake County trash-to-ethanol plant go. The land deal for the facility is dead, proven financing has not been secured, and the Lake County Solid Waste Management District has been spinning its wheels in a mire of sludge on this issue for the past several years. Let's cut our losses and seek out a more responsible bidder for the consolidation of Lake County's trash collections.

• All Calumet Region residents should support new Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson as she strives to revitalize the struggling Lake County city. The location of Gary along major transportation routes and the Lake Michigan shoreline are in the plus column of the economically beleaguered city. We all have a stake in a revitalized Gary, from Hammond to Crown Point.

• Rebuild the Cline Avenue Bridge. This important connection for a major region thoroughfare has been closed since 2009 after inspectors determined corrosion had made it unsafe. Now the state is considering a proposal for a privately operated toll bridge to take its place. The vendor appears to be a proven company that is building a similar span in Chesapeake, Va., a city that appears to be very happy with the deal. This could be our answer for the Cline Avenue Bridge.

• Don't forget the needs of our veterans coming home after long tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. These young men and women have given significant portions of their lives in support of their country. Some of their friends will never return home. They will be looking for jobs and community support. We owe them each a hero's welcome.

• Pretend there are no borders between the cities, towns and counties of the Calumet Region. Borders for political and territorial purposes help give communities identity, but they're really just imaginary lines. If communities in the region continue to tear down walls and share costs and best practices, our region can only grow and improve.

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