South Shore realignment in Michigan City

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South Shore realignment in Michigan City

Unread postby BIG AMISH » Mon Jun 17, 2013 2:19 am

Courtesy South Bend Tribune:

MICHIGAN CITY — A consensus has been reached on realigning the South Shore railroad tracks in Michigan City in a move aimed primarily at reducing travel times to and from Chicago.

What's called ''The Central Corridor'' option featuring double tracks was unveiled during a public meeting Thursday night attended by about 150 people inside a jammed City Council chambers.

The single track running in the middle of the streets since 1908 would be paved over and replaced with double tracks that would run mostly beside the streets on an elevated and landscaped line following the existing route except for a straightening of a sharp curve.

Gerald Hanas, general manager of the railroad, said trains running off the street would allow them to travel faster and with a double track maintenance could be done without having to board passengers on buses and drive them to the next station to get on another train to continue to their destination.

The second track would remain open for trains to veer around the work, which is especially critical during rush hour when trains carrying up to 800 passengers on the single track are blocked whenever maintenance of the rails is needed.

''That's a lot of buses,'' Hanas said.

Supporters believe a double track system with faster travel times and fewer delays will help further the redevelopment taking shape on Michigan City's north end.

Developers could recognize there's a stronger market for building condominiums for people who want to commute back and forth from Chicago and establishing businesses looking to serve the influx of people.

The plan includes things like a new station with 8,000-foot platforms on Franklin Street.

The Central Corridor option is the seventh realignment route considered over the past six years but the only one agreed to by both the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District, which operates the railroad, and the mayor's office.

''A lot of hard work, negotiations and compromise from both sides were demonstrated during this process,'' Mayor Ron Meer said.

Hanas said the railroad used to have tracks in the streets in places like East Chicago and South Bend, but the only ones left are in Michigan City, something that stands in the way of plans to grow the commuter railroad, which runs from Chicago to South Bend.

The cost of all of the improvements is estimated at $102 million and hinges on whether federal funds are available to help finance the work.

If funding is secured, construction could start in five years, officials said.

The only stretch where trains would remain on the street is on 11th Street, but the rails would be off to the side of the street, which would be restricted to one-way travel.

City Councilman Don Przybylinski said he supported the plan except for having the slightly elevated double tracks along heavily residential 11th Street with trains running at up to 45 miles per hour.

He said there should be a single track on 11th Street and that double tracks exist only in spots between Michigan City and South Bend.

''I don't want our center of town looking like a railroad yard with double tracks going down the middle of the streets,'' Przybylinski said.
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Re: South Shore realignment in Michigan City

Unread postby justalurker66 » Mon Jun 17, 2013 7:20 pm

Finally!

Now lets hope that the people of the city of Michigan City can accept the plan and not push it back into yet another round of studies.

BTW: Links to news stories -
http://www.southbendtribune.com/news/sb ... 8108.story
http://www.southbendtribune.com/busines ... 8880.story


Renderings and official information -
http://www.emichigancity.com/cityhall/d ... /index.htm
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Re: South Shore realignment in Michigan City

Unread postby bctrainfan » Tue Jun 18, 2013 5:28 am

8,000 foot platforms? Seems awfully long....hate to have to walk over a mile to get to the station! :mrgreen:
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Re: South Shore realignment in Michigan City

Unread postby Standard Railfan » Tue Jun 18, 2013 4:47 pm

bctrainfan wrote:8,000 foot platforms? Seems awfully long....hate to have to walk over a mile to get to the station! :mrgreen:


The article references 8000-foot platforms (with an "s"). You won't be alone in your long walk. :lol:
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Re: South Shore realignment in Michigan City

Unread postby justalurker66 » Thu Jun 20, 2013 12:58 am

Typographical errors ... "800" ft platforms would be more accurate. An "8000" ft platform would lead to too many crossing closings.

BTW: One of the Michigan City News Dispatch articles contained the following text:
A resolution opposed to a double track option presented by Councilman Ron Hamilton Jr. was withdrawn May 21 because of a typographical area.
http://thenewsdispatch.com/articles/201 ... 320869.txt

A news report on a typographical error having a typographical error. Classic.
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Re: South Shore realignment in Michigan City

Unread postby Standard Railfan » Thu Jun 20, 2013 3:14 pm

justalurker66 wrote:Typographical errors ... "800" ft platforms would be more accurate. An "8000" ft platform would lead to too many crossing closings.

BTW: One of the Michigan City News Dispatch articles contained the following text:
A resolution opposed to a double track option presented by Councilman Ron Hamilton Jr. was withdrawn May 21 because of a typographical area.
http://thenewsdispatch.com/articles/201 ... 320869.txt

A news report on a typographical error having a typographical error. Classic.


One more event to raise the public's faith in the fifth estate. I think that it may be time to disable the spell check on the word processor in all media organizations. :mrgreen:
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Re: South Shore realignment in Michigan City

Unread postby 937TrainFan » Thu Jun 20, 2013 5:19 pm

Has there been anymore talk of South Shore expansion down into Munster and Dyer? Last I heard was a report in April saying NICTD was preparing a summer long "cash fundraiser". I imagine if the MC realignment goes through that would put southern expansion on hold for 5-10 years... again :|
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Re: South Shore realignment in Michigan City

Unread postby MQT3001 » Thu Jun 20, 2013 6:24 pm

937TrainFan wrote:Has there been anymore talk of South Shore expansion down into Munster and Dyer? Last I heard was a report in April saying NICTD was preparing a summer long "cash fundraiser". I imagine if the MC realignment goes through that would put southern expansion on hold for 5-10 years... again :|

Isn't part of the reasoning for realignment to make room for expansion trains? IIRC they need more capacity to operate efficiently with more trains, they have enough problems in Michigan City with what they have now!
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Re: South Shore realignment in Michigan City

Unread postby Jochs » Thu Jun 20, 2013 6:30 pm

Yay, 8000ft platforms! Now the next time I get on the train in Michigan City it won't seem so crowded because people will be able to spread out a little. :mrgreen:
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Re: South Shore realignment in Michigan City

Unread postby 937TrainFan » Thu Jun 20, 2013 7:14 pm

MQT3001 wrote:
937TrainFan wrote:Has there been anymore talk of South Shore expansion down into Munster and Dyer? Last I heard was a report in April saying NICTD was preparing a summer long "cash fundraiser". I imagine if the MC realignment goes through that would put southern expansion on hold for 5-10 years... again :|

Isn't part of the reasoning for realignment to make room for expansion trains? IIRC they need more capacity to operate efficiently with more trains, they have enough problems in Michigan City with what they have now!


I'm not sure. Southern expansion wouldn't really effect any cities west of Hammond, it would make the western part of the line more crowded though, so I see what you mean. I think the last report I read said there would only be 9 new trains if the line expanded only to Dyer, So if everything was expanded out over a day time period it wouldn't have too much of an affect on eastern cities.

I'm going to miss the street running, but then the little person inside my head says that it keeps NICTD from making more money and in turn expanding more.

What bothers me is that they have been talking expansion for the last 25 years and it always gets put back.

Did they ever remodel the Gary Metro station? I know that was a big talking point last summer.
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Re: South Shore realignment in Michigan City

Unread postby justalurker66 » Thu Jun 20, 2013 8:19 pm

937TrainFan wrote:Has there been anymore talk of South Shore expansion down into Munster and Dyer? Last I heard was a report in April saying NICTD was preparing a summer long "cash fundraiser". I imagine if the MC realignment goes through that would put southern expansion on hold for 5-10 years... again :|


Michigan City has priority ... they would be doing it now if they had permission and funding. What the narrow visioned people of Michigan City and their well deserved leaders fail to understand is that they and NICTD lost out on 100% funding for the project a few years ago ... and the next round of 80% funding all because they had not got their act together and agreed on where to put the railroad.

They still have not decided ... and there are councilmen putting forth a proposed law banning a double track alignment.

With the realignment stalled for at least a couple of years NICTD is moving forward with a new platform at Dune Park and new wire between Michigan City and South Bend. They will get to Michigan City when they can.

As far as the southern expansion ... there is political pressure to be more than a line between Chicago and South Bend - to the point where some want to stack the board in favor of the western counties. But the other projects will come first.

MQT3001 wrote:Isn't part of the reasoning for realignment to make room for expansion trains? IIRC they need more capacity to operate efficiently with more trains, they have enough problems in Michigan City with what they have now!


The expansion trains will probably never see Michigan City unless they need to be rotated into the shops for maintenance. Expect to see a small yard at the end of the new line to tie up the trains overnight. There is no reason to run the extra miles to get to Michigan City just to bring the same cars back the next day. Plus the expansion cars will likely be different rolling stock designed for the new line.

Michigan City needs the second track for redundancy. Too many times a problem on single track will put the whole line out of business. Even if two tracks are not built immediately it would be short sighted to not have a plan in place and pre-approved to get the second track.

I wish those doubting the need for a second track could understand the scheduling problems a single track causes. Right now an eastbound train must be held at Sheridan if it cannot make it to Shops in time to clear a westbound train. Once a train enters 10th St westbound trains must be held at the Shops ... and if the eastbound is destined for South Bend they either have to back the westbound train into the yard or run the eastbound train into the yard to let the westbound pass (then back the eastbound out of the yard). Having a double track downtown would allow the meet to occur there. Even if a train were delayed passengers eastbound to Michigan City could get to the station and get off of the train instead of waiting at Sheridan. The same for westbound trains.

The system simply works better when there is more double track.
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Re: South Shore realignment in Michigan City

Unread postby justalurker66 » Thu Jun 20, 2013 8:23 pm

937TrainFan wrote:Did they ever remodel the Gary Metro station? I know that was a big talking point last summer.


Nope. No money, no consensus. Miller residents seem ready to lynch NICTD any time closing their station comes up. The best answer financially is another East Chicago type station for car commuters. The most acceptable solution in the community is two stations. With no extra money Gary will have to wait.

Getting people to agree with NICTD's plans is the biggest challenge. When there is public support projects move forward. Where there is opposition NICTD invests elsewhere on the line.
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Re: South Shore realignment in Michigan City

Unread postby 937TrainFan » Thu Jun 20, 2013 9:28 pm

Very interesting comments lurker. Its very sad that the Michigan City government has failed in getting anything done, just how they didn't take the chance to remodel the old station 20 years ago. This is the same government that has been the first to criticize NICTD for not doing enough when they end up refusing everything anyway. Is it a coincidence that Michigan City is the last on the line to have street running? :lol:

My gut feeling is that none of this will see construction until 10 years from now. There is going to be some kind of dispute over cost or "economic development" before any action is taken. I fear they funding pool may run low by the time it happens though, and the county taxpayers will have to really fit the bill.

This political nonsense in NW Indiana has gone on for years. It took Hammond 100 years to build an overpass downtown, and by then, half the tracks were gone and the problem was not nearly as bad. Gary is a whole novel in itself.

When you look back at it, NICTD is really the ones getting the short end of the stick, constantly. I have never seen a railroad (let alone a transit authority) so ambitious to improve things, and get constantly shoved to the side by political disarray, both by the communities of NW Indiana and Indy.

I'm glad NICTD is at least trying. IMO... giving western counties more power might be a good thing, they seem to be running things at least half correctly,have truly been economic supporters of rail, and deserve solid rail transit (Munster and Dyer specifically).
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Re: South Shore realignment in Michigan City

Unread postby MQT3001 » Thu Jun 20, 2013 9:32 pm

I guess my unfamiliarity with expansion in obvious, I thought said expansion was farther east, thus sending more trains via MC.

Either way, a 2nd track is a good idea, even if not 100% needed now, it allows for expansion as ridership grows. If you're gonna spend million moving the track, you may as well add a second one if you're at capacity.
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Re: South Shore realignment in Michigan City

Unread postby 937TrainFan » Thu Jun 20, 2013 9:43 pm

MQT3001 wrote:I guess my unfamiliarity with expansion in obvious, I thought said expansion was farther east, thus sending more trains via MC.

Either way, a 2nd track is a good idea, even if not 100% needed now, it allows for expansion as ridership grows. If you're gonna spend million moving the track, you may as well add a second one if you're at capacity.


I did see some talk of South Bend to Valpo expansion. But in the April Press release for South Shore they expressed that they were focused (more like politically pressured like above said :lol: ) on southern expansion to Munster and Dyer.

NICTD already has ex Monon right of way in west Hammond, so its also more feasible with that.
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Re: South Shore realignment in Michigan City

Unread postby justalurker66 » Fri Jun 21, 2013 7:12 pm

937TrainFan wrote:I'm glad NICTD is at least trying. IMO... giving western counties more power might be a good thing, they seem to be running things at least half correctly,have truly been economic supporters of rail, and deserve solid rail transit (Munster and Dyer specifically).


I feel that the more power given to western counties the more likely they would tell NICTD to build a new yard somewhere and say to hell with Michigan City (and unfortunately South Bend gets caught in the mess).

If the yard was on the west side instead of the east side of Michigan City I suspect service would have been cut a long time ago.

937TrainFan wrote:NICTD already has ex Monon right of way in west Hammond, so its also more feasible with that.


It is practically a road to nowhere ... tying the north end in to the existing NICTD line or running into Illinois to tie in to Metra will be a challenge. I have not looked to see where stations might be placed along the ex Monon. Service to Lowell could be provided via other paths ... leaving the ex Monon vacant.
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Re: South Shore realignment in Michigan City

Unread postby 937TrainFan » Fri Jun 21, 2013 7:54 pm

Yeah that would be a pretty bad situation if that happens, but I don't know if it would ever get to that point. Fair representation is necessary, but things also have to get done.

The plan I saw when Lowell expansion looked to be happening a couple years ago was that they would head south at the state line taking the ex monon and then swinging over on the ex erie for a short bit until they cross Hohman Ave, then swinging back on the monon all the way down to Munster and Dyer.

Station wise, if I remember correctly, they said something off Fisher St. for Munster and something close to the AMTK station in Dyer. As for reaching Lowell, they were saying of making a deal with CSX to build a parallel track along the ROW, but I don't think talks were ever seriously reached.
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Re: South Shore realignment in Michigan City

Unread postby Typhoon » Sat Jun 22, 2013 11:41 pm

justalurker66 wrote:It is practically a road to nowhere ... tying the north end in to the existing NICTD line or running into Illinois to tie in to Metra will be a challenge. I have not looked to see where stations might be placed along the ex Monon. Service to Lowell could be provided via other paths ... leaving the ex Monon vacant.


It would not be a challenge at all, other than getting under Hohman. Pretty straight foward.
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Re: South Shore realignment in Michigan City

Unread postby justalurker66 » Sun Jun 23, 2013 2:26 pm

Typhoon wrote:It would not be a challenge at all, other than getting under Hohman. Pretty straight foward.


Someone did put a big bridge in the way ... NICTD could move east next to the NS (Nickle Plate) line to get under the bridge. Crossing three tracks of IHB at the same time. As the last railroad added NICTD would get last priority at the crossing (just like crossing the former Michigan Central Amtrak line in Michigan City).

North of there NICTD would have to cross the double tracked NS Nickel Plate ... the double tracked CSX Barr Subdivision ... and the single track IHB State Line track. Perhaps a bridge could be built to fly over most of those tracks. Otherwise it is back to coordinating crossings with multiple lines. Hegewisch would be the first existing station that could be used.
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Re: South Shore realignment in Michigan City

Unread postby Typhoon » Sun Jun 23, 2013 7:01 pm

justalurker66 wrote:
Typhoon wrote:As the last railroad added NICTD would get last priority at the crossing (just like crossing the former Michigan Central Amtrak line in Michigan City).
No they will not
North of there NICTD would have to cross the double tracked NS Nickel Plate ... the double tracked CSX Barr Subdivision ... and the single track IHB State Line track. Perhaps a bridge could be built to fly over most of those tracks. Otherwise it is back to coordinating crossings with multiple lines. Hegewisch would be the first existing station that could be used.



Coordingating crossings with mulitple lines is no big deal. Metra is able to do it just fine at Brighton Park(CSX and NS) and 75th st (CSX, BRC, and NS). That is just to name a few crossings where that is done every day. While yes, new depots will need to be built, that will be the case in any southern Lake county expansion.
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