South Shore Double Track

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justalurker66
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Re: South Shore Double Track

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Back in Michigan City my camera didn't work as well as expected but most of the lights are on between Wabash St and Spring St along 11th St.
20221226N-11thSt-Eastbound.jpg
20230101N-11thSt-Station.jpg

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Re: South Shore Double Track

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RailRoadFan ride along ...

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Re: South Shore Double Track

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Starting in Michigan City ... Signal work continues. The westbound signals at 11th St station and the crosswalk signals at the east end of the platform have been placed.
20230108-11thSt-Station1.jpg
20230108-11thSt-Station2.jpg
Some assembly required ... the ties for the track 2 gauntlet are on site.
20230108-11thSt-Station3.jpg

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Re: South Shore Double Track

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At Lafayette St a special "no left turn" sign from Signal-Tech has been installed. (The location may need to be adjusted for better visibility.)
20230108-11thSt-Lafayette.jpg
Out west, the new main track has been laid next to the platform at Dune Park. The gauntlet rails need to be installed.
20230108-DunePark.jpg
Further west, the new station building at Miller is taking shape.
20230108-Miller.jpg
The Ogden Dunes parking lot is closing tonight. Buses will stop in the new parking lot on the south side of the tracks starting tomorrow and construction will begin on the new high level platform and gauntlet on track 1.

One strangeness noted in Michigan City is the crash barriers at the end of the concrete walls. Some have several large barrels that would absorb the impact of a large truck. Others have simple guard rails. All are behind signals where a vehicle would need to run over the signals before hitting the crash barriers. Not sure why some intersections have big barrels. (A passer by stopped me at Lafayette St to complain about the barrels at Oak St.)

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Re: South Shore Double Track

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Photos from Lafayette and 11th St ... I made a diagram of all of the road signs at the intersection directing traffic. South bound traffic will have the right of way except when a train is present. The sidewalk north of the tracks is marked as a pedestrian crossing. (The southbound stop sign is temporary until the signals are activated.)
CrossingSigns.png
20230122-11thSt-Lafayette1.jpg
20230122-11thSt-Lafayette2.jpg

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Re: South Shore Double Track

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Lets start this week with a chase ... eight cars returning to shops for maintenance. Shown at Sheridan, Willard and Cedar St. Crossing lights are active at Sheridan and Willard, however only the "island" circuits are active so the train has to stop and roll forward slowly to make sure there is enough warning time for drivers.
20230122-10thSt-Sheridan.jpg
20230122-10thSt-Willard.jpg
20230122-11thSt-Cedar.jpg

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Re: South Shore Double Track

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At the 11th St Station. The first portion of the roof has been placed on the south platform. The gauntlet on track 2 was completed about a week ago.
20230122-11thSt-Station1.jpg
20230122-11thSt-Station2.jpg
At Wabash St the fence that will line the dividing wall is in place.
20230122-11thSt-Wabash.jpg

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Re: South Shore Double Track

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And now a little confusion. Where lights have been installed along 11th St, the lights are offset over the sidewalk. I am not sure why they would do this. The lights on the southbound gates are not offset. My best guess is that the north side (southbound) lights were the ones that should have been offset ... over the road ... to give extra visibility around the traffic light installation. None of the lights are activated, so there is still time for corrections/changes to be made. (Wabash St does not have the offset over the sidewalk.)
20230122-11thSt-Crossing.jpg
20230122-11thSt-Washington.jpg
The end ... at Mineral Springs Rd. The way has been cleared to extend the new freight siding to connect to the old north Bailey freight siding.
20230122-MineralSprings.jpg

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Saturnalia
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Re: South Shore Double Track

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Regarding those offset lights, could those be side-lights for 11th Street? Odd if true, that they're bi-directional. I guess, as you said, time will tell.

Also, I don't think it has been mentioned yet in this thread, but there has been work ongoing in the west half of the project also:

The reconfiguration of US12/20 at Tennessee and Ohio Streets in Gary is nearly complete, including the installation of the new south track. Crossing protection work there is ongoing.

In Miller, the new station building is going up, and the grade work east of Lake Street is moving along nicely. The main grade widening up to the B&O Bridge appears nearly finished, as does the grading for the new Miller layover yard. For those unaware, the 200-series trains which presently turn at Gary Metro will begin turning at Miller when the new post-project timetable is instituted.

Finally, work on the NS Chicago Line and Cleveland Cliffs bridges are both well underway, especially over the NS. Piers and abutments are well along for the NS bridge, so some superstructure work may not be too terribly far off. This will certainly be exciting!
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Re: South Shore Double Track

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Saturnalia wrote:
Sun Jan 22, 2023 11:22 pm
Regarding those offset lights, could those be side-lights for 11th Street? Odd if true, that they're bi-directional. I guess, as you said, time will tell.
The photo posted a couple of weeks ago (with the pink arrow) shows Lafayette St with the offset over the sidewalk lights turned to face north-south traffic and a separate single pair facing eastbound 11th St traffic. That also puts the "No Left Turn - Train" black out light behind a crossing signal. Certainly a mystery to me.

There are a couple of other "punch list" items that I am sure will be corrected.
Saturnalia wrote:
Sun Jan 22, 2023 11:22 pm
Also, I don't think it has been mentioned yet in this thread, but there has been work ongoing in the west half of the project also:

The reconfiguration of US12/20 at Tennessee and Ohio Streets in Gary is nearly complete, including the installation of the new south track. Crossing protection work there is ongoing.

In Miller, the new station building is going up, and the grade work east of Lake Street is moving along nicely. The main grade widening up to the B&O Bridge appears nearly finished, as does the grading for the new Miller layover yard. For those unaware, the 200-series trains which presently turn at Gary Metro will begin turning at Miller when the new post-project timetable is instituted.

Finally, work on the NS Chicago Line and Cleveland Cliffs bridges are both well underway, especially over the NS. Piers and abutments are well along for the NS bridge, so some superstructure work may not be too terribly far off. This will certainly be exciting!
All true. I have not been saying much about the "Phase 3" end but it is well underway. Chasing the deadhead cut my time short this weekend. Mineral Springs was as far as I went.

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Re: South Shore Double Track

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The fact that they are replacing the Miller station that I think of as "the new one" is not making me feel any less old. ;P

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Re: South Shore Double Track

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Dan Cluley wrote:
Mon Jan 23, 2023 12:05 am
The fact that they are replacing the Miller station that I think of as "the new one" is not making me feel any less old. ;P
Ha! They're also going to be levelling the Track 1 "high-mini" at Ogden Dunes and the entire Hammond station (less the headhouse) as well. Fairly new structures, but Progress requires it.

Much remains to be seen on how ridership will do in the coming years, but the line sure will be primed for increases.

When/if South Bend gets re-aligned, it'll be safe to say that the entire South Shore Line will be pretty much state-of-the-art and one of the finest legacy commuter railroads in the country. Wouldn't be able to do much better without a complete clean-sheet design, I would say. :D
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Re: South Shore Double Track

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Ridership was 3.284 million in 2019. Unfortunately peak ridership (in the NICTD era) was 2007. 4.245 million passengers. 3.284 million is still a lot better than the 1.5 million the South Shore carried in 1977 when NICTD was established, but I set my expectations of a "rebound" appropriately.

I won't bother mentioning pandemic ridership levels (although 2022 was higher than 2021 - which was higher than 2020). But there is one trend worth noting ... NICTD has been investing an increasing amount on capital projects:
2015 $44.5 million in operating and $13.5 million in capital expenses.
2016 $48.1 million in operating and $49.2 million in capital expenses.
2017 $48.5 million in operating and $53.3 million in capital expenses.
2018 $51.2 million in operating and $51.2 million in capital expenses.
2019 $51.9 million in operating and $51.6 million in capital expenses.
2020 $52.7 million in operating and $104.0 million in capital expenses.
2021 $57.2 million in operating and $162.6 million in capital expenses.

I am looking forward to 2024 for the double track and 2025 for West Lake. And I hope South Bend gets their reroute as well.

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Re: South Shore Double Track

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NICTD's posted "to do" list for Michigan City ...
Throughout 2023 the following work is expected to be completed in Michigan City:
* Completion of remaining sidewalks along 11th Street and the North/South intersections at Oak, Franklin, Washington, Wabash, and Ohio streets.
* Installation of a fencing system on 11th Street barrier wall and on the north side of the new Double Tracks.
* Installation of brick paver treatment at Franklin, Washington, Wabash streets as well as the northside of Cedar cul-de-sac.
* Green Street widened between Kentucky and Chicago streets.
* Completion of the track crossing at Chicago Street.
* Removal of existing track on 10th Street and repaving of the center lane along with completion of multiple curb tie-ins along 10th Street.
* Completion of U streets along 10th and 11th streets.
* Completion of multiple traffic/grade crossing warning signals and ITS components along 11th Street.
* Addition of topsoil, seed, and sod at parkways.
The Green St work is a change from the initial plan where 11th St was to be a two way street from Kentucky west. 11th St was built as a single eastbound lane all the way from Chicago Ave. Green St will be improved and traffic needing access to Chicago Ave will be directed west on Green St.

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Re: South Shore Double Track

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Saturnalia wrote:
Mon Jan 23, 2023 2:03 am
Dan Cluley wrote:
Mon Jan 23, 2023 12:05 am
The fact that they are replacing the Miller station that I think of as "the new one" is not making me feel any less old. ;P
Ha! They're also going to be levelling the Track 1 "high-mini" at Ogden Dunes and the entire Hammond station (less the headhouse) as well. Fairly new structures, but Progress requires it.

Much remains to be seen on how ridership will do in the coming years, but the line sure will be primed for increases.

When/if South Bend gets re-aligned, it'll be safe to say that the entire South Shore Line will be pretty much state-of-the-art and one of the finest legacy commuter railroads in the country. Wouldn't be able to do much better without a complete clean-sheet design, I would say. :D
I see this decade's projects as preparing the South Shore for the next 100 years, the way the Insull rebuild did in the 1920's.

I hadn't thought about Hammon & Ogden Dunes, but to me at least, Miller is a little different. I always thought that somebody put a little extra effort into that upgrade in the '90s. It could have easily been just another glass bus shelter like OD, but instead somebody looked at the South Shore's heritage and spent a little to make it nicer than it might have been.

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Re: South Shore Double Track

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justalurker66 wrote:
Mon Jan 23, 2023 8:30 pm
I am looking forward to 2024 for the double track and 2025 for West Lake. And I hope South Bend gets their reroute as well.
Another project worth mentioning is Metra's new fourth track project between Museum Campus and Randolph. This project is joint with NICTD, and adds that fourth track in a critical segment that is currently only three tracks. This will include adding a fourth platform track at Van Buren, and redundancy into Randolph for NICTD. Right now, there is only one switch into the NICTD depot, which is not ideal!

On ridership, it's roughly in line with where Metra is at, both in terms of long-term trends and also the post-COVID trends. Metra has levelled out at around 50% of pre-pandemic ridership, and has been steady since September. NICTD's trend appears very similar, and that is with a massive bus bridge in the middle of the railroad with noticeably fewer riders right now east of Gary.

I see two factors at play: Chicago's ability to remove its head from its arse, and what will happen long-term to remote work.

On the former, who knows. The City is run by idiots who are chasing businesses away while inviting the criminals into the Loop seemingly with open arms.

On the latter, most businesses still want their people in the office but the tight labor market has to a great degree hampered their ability to claw their people back in, for fear of people jumping to other employers. But, it is most likely that a slack labor market will develop later this year, possibly relieving that pressure. Additionally, there is broad consensus in industry that it will be much harder for work-from-homers to get promotions and things because it's hard to lead from your couch. Finally, at some point, the pandemic could become a net-positive as more people moved out of the city, but may still retain jobs there.

I personally believe, and so do the numbers, that while East Chicago and Hammond have historically captured a fair amount of border commuters, West Lake is gonna go straight into the heart of that completely untapped region. "It's only 8 miles" some have said, but that's 8 miles of fighting urban traffic to get to Hammond or East Chicago. With the stations easily accessible much closer to home, and very time-competitive, I think NICTD (and the FTA who funded it) are right to be bullish.

After Double Track, I'd like to see a great emphasis on express trains, especially during rush hour. Lots of new opportunities to segment up the stops into three or four regions and shave off a lot of time for East-enders. Reliability should also be a major focus, it's pretty good right now but can always be better.
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Re: South Shore Double Track

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Any idea on the timing for the Metra fourth main track project?

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Re: South Shore Double Track

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tttodisp wrote:
Tue Jan 24, 2023 10:53 pm
Any idea on the timing for the Metra fourth main track project?
I believe that it is supposed to start this year. There’s a bunch of material massing up between Museum Campus and Van Buren, presumably for the project. Neither NICTD nor Metra have said much about it, but they have said that it is mostly funded by NICTD to allow for more NICTD trains, especially once West Lake is added to the mix.
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Re: South Shore Double Track

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I have barely heard a description of the 4th track at Van Buren. I was hoping for a project website similar to DTNWI and West Lake. Good to hear it is actually progressing. With the additional trains NICTD wants to add having that platform will be a benefit.

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Re: South Shore Double Track

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justalurker66 wrote:
Wed Jan 25, 2023 8:51 am
I have barely heard a description of the 4th track at Van Buren. I was hoping for a project website similar to DTNWI and West Lake. Good to hear it is actually progressing. With the additional trains NICTD wants to add having that platform will be a benefit.
I’m a bit surprised Metra especially hasn’t mentioned it. It’ll be a pretty big deal with a lot more flexibility and redundancy north of Roosevelt Rd. Should speed some things up a bit too.

I found one small mention of it in their capital plan, but that was it. Meanwhile, I was happy to at least see them studying upgrading to constant tension catenary, since their wire is 1910s vintage and could really use it. Hopefully they do the signal system too! Let’s get some bi-directional running!!
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