Posts Tagged ‘Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District’

NICTD Moves to Cut Costs of Track Project

July 29, 2021

The parent agency of the South Shore Line has taken a step toward lowering the cost of double tracking the commuter railroad between Gary and Michigan City, Indiana.

The Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District has approved the purchase of materials for the project including $6.2 million in rail, $380,000 for diamond crossings, and more than $700,000 for Alstom signal equipment. Those purchases will remove potential price volatility for any contractor selected for the project.

The agency is still considering which components of the project can be labeled as optional if funding for them doesn’t materialize.

“I’m feeling confident between the actions we’re taking and the new funding available, we’ll be able to give a notice to proceed,” NICTD President Michael Noland said.

Last May NICTD rejected the only two bids it received for track construction because they far exceeded the $228.6 million budgeted for the project.

NICTD plans to put the track out for bid in the next few weeks.

Indiana High Court to Review NICTD Status

June 24, 2021

The legal status of the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District will be reviewed by the Indiana Supreme Court.

The case stems from a lawsuit filed by a Hobart, Indiana, man who was injured while working on a South Shore Line track maintenance project.

NICTD oversee the South Shore, which operates commuter trains between Chicago and South Bend, Indiana.

A lower court had ruled that NICTD is an arm of the state for some matters but not for others. In the latter, NICTD is a political subdivision of the state just as is a city.

The lawsuit in question challenges NICTD holding both statuses at the same time.

The plaintiff had initially filed suit in Illinois then sought to file suit in Indiana but missed the filing deadline.

NICTD argues that the lower-court decision be upheld because its unique status has been recognized in Indiana and Illinois courts for decades.

NICTD Seeks to Lower Track Project Cost

May 26, 2021

The Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District will seek ways to lower the cost of adding a second main track between Gary and Michigan City, Indiana.

The agency, which oversees the South Shore commuter rail service, recently rejected the two bids it received for the project after they came in higher than expected.

Those bids were in the $400 million range whereas NICTD had expected the project to cost $228 million.

South Shore President President Michael Noland said during a NICTD board meeting the original plan for the double tracking was “a giant miss.”

However, he expressed confidence the project scope can be revised and additional funding can be found.

Among the possible changes NICTD might make are using single station platforms rather than two, using existing storage tracks rather than adding new ones; and buying such materials as rail and ties ahead of time rather than having project contractors buy them as part of their work.

NICTD Rejects Track Project Bids

May 14, 2021

The Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District rejected the two bids it received for a project to install double track on the South Shore commuter line.

The agency said the bids were too high and it will seek new bids in an effort to stay within the agency’s estimates of the $228.6 million project cost. The bids NICTD received were $399.7 million and $424.5 million.

NICTC officials said they will talk with the two bidders and others in the industry to see how the project cost can be lowered and to “find out why some other firms did not participate and provide a bid.”

That process is expected to take 30 to 45 days and set a goal of receiving new bids by August.

South Shore Rail Project Bids Come in Higher Than Expected

May 6, 2021

The South Shore commuter railroad may reject the bids it received for a double-track project after they came in higher than expected.

The railroad’s parent agency, the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District, could also elect to accept the lowest bid.

Rejecting all of the bids would be the first step toward attempting to achieve a lower price.

NICTD President Michael Noland the agency had expected four bids but received just two of $400 million and $425 million.

The budget for the double-tracking project between Gary and Michigan City, Indiana, has been estimated at $491 million.

In an unrelated development, NICTD approved two contracts: $16.7 million for a new 11th Street Station in Michigan City, and $4.1 million for a new Gary Miller station.

The existing 11th Street Station closed Saturday and service at 11th Street will not resume until the conclusion of the station project.

New South Bend South Shore Station on Hold

March 24, 2021

Efforts to build a new South Shore Line station in South Bend, Indiana, have stalled.

Michael Nolan, president of South Shore parent organization Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District said the railroad’s current top priority is completing the double tracking project between Michigan City and Gary, Indiana.

NITCD also is overseeing construction of a line to Dyer, Indiana, which will link with the mainline between Chicago and South Bend.

Nolan said he hopes that in time one of two competing ideas for a new South Bend station will gain widespread support.

One proposal is to establish a station in downtown South Bend.

That concept has the city’s support but would cost between $112 million to $200 million and involve significant property acquisitions for a new right-of-way, relocation of the city’s Amtrak stop, and demolition of buildings at a public housing complex.

St. Joseph County favors a plan for a new station near the South Bend airport.

That proposal would cost at least $50 million and require the demolition of 40 homes.

It would also need approval of the Federal Aviation Administration because it would require construction of tracks and overhead catenary through a clear zone off one of the airport’s runways.

The advantage of that plan, though, is that it would eliminate a long, indirect looping route to reach the current airport station.

South Shore Projects Timeline Shown

January 29, 2021

Construction contracts for the double-tracking project of the South Shore commuter rail line in Indiana are expected to be awarded this spring with work starting in mid-to-late summer.

The Northern Indiana Commuter Transit District, which oversees the South Shore, recently awarded a $17 million construction management contract to WSP USA to oversee the project.

The $491 million project involves building a second mainline track between Gary and Michigan City, Indiana.

Also included in the project is construction of four new bridges and three high-level station platforms.

NICTD head Michael Noland said that construction should get underway this fall for the West Lake Corridor project, which will create a 7.8-mile extension of the South Shore from Hammond to Dyer, Indiana.

The NICTD Board recently approved a $1 million contract with A&K Railroad Materials for the acquisition of rail.

The West Lake Corridor project is projected to cost $944.9 million with service starting in late summer or early fall 2023.

South Shore to Lease Metra Cars

January 27, 2021

The Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District plans to lease 26 bi-level gallery cars from Chicago commuter rail operator Metra to handle increased South Shore Line commuter service.

NICTD said the increased service will occur as a result of the double tracking of the mainline between Gary and Michigan City, Indiana, and the West Lake Corridor expansion from Hammond to Dyer.

The lease will cost $3.5 million annually over 15 years. The leased cars were built between 2004 and 2006 and are similar in design to bi-level galley cars the South Shore currently operates.

Metra will refurbish the cars before South Shore takes delivery of them.

In a related development, the NICTD board  has approved a $17.1 million contract for engineering firm WSP to manage construction of the double track project.

Design Firm Named for South Shore Extension

January 15, 2021

The Dallas engineering firm Jacobs has been announced as the designer of record for the West Lake Commuter Rail Corridor project in Northwest Indiana.

The 8-mile line will be build by the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District between Dyer and Hammond, connecting at the latter with the South Shore Commuter line between Chicago and South Bend, Indiana.

F.H. Paschen and Ragmar Benson Joint Venture are overseeing the $935 million project, which has achieved full funding.

The line is expected to be completed in 2024 and include four new stations.

Once open the travel time between Munster/Dyer Main Street and Chicago will be 47 minutes.

Work to Begin Soon on South Shore Project

January 9, 2021

Construction on the double-track project of the South Shore Line is expected to begin soon now that the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District has received a $173 million federal grant.

The project will add a 26.6-mile second mainline for South Shore trains between between Gary and Michigan City, Indiana.

Total cost of the project is expected to be $491 million. The work will include construction of a new station in Michigan City and ending the street running there.

“Reduced travel time and more frequent service options have been top priorities for those who rely on South Shore Line service,” said NICTD President Mike Noland in a statement.