Posts Tagged ‘Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District’

South Shore Expands Bus Bridge Service

August 9, 2022

The South Shore Line changed its bus bridge operations on Aug. 6 as work continues to double track the commuter line between Michigan City and Gary, Indiana.

Bus service is now replacing train service between Carroll Avenue station in Michigan City and Gary Metro station.

South Shore trains continue to operate between Gary and downtown Chicago, and between Carroll Avenue and South Bend, Indiana.

Buses will make intermediate stops at Dune Park, Portage/Ogden Dunes, and Miller. Loop bus service will operate between the Beverly Shores and 11th Street stations.

The bus service in lieu of trains will continue through spring 2023.

South Shore Eyes New South Bend Station Site

August 4, 2022

The governing board of the South Shore Line has agreed to seek requests for proposals for moving the South Bend, Indiana, station.

The Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District board’s station request for proposals calls for updating engineering and environmental planning for the project.

Since 1990 the South Shore has used a terminal on the east side of South Bend International Airport.

However, agency officials have long been disenchanted with the slow route to that station, saying it adds up to 15 additional minutes of running time.

NICTD has long eyed moving the South Shore terminal to the west side of the airport. Efforts in 2008 and 2017 to move the South Bend terminal failed to result in any tangible action other than conducting studies.

In recent years NICTD officials have been discussing the prospect of moving the South Bend terminal to a downtown location.

The South Shore once terminated in downtown South bend, but that was eventually scaled back to the Bendix neighborhood on the west side of South Bend. The former Bendix station is currentlu used by intercity passenger carrier Amtrak.

Officials have said the 1990 extension to the airport was always intended to be temporary.

The major stumbling block to moving the South Bend terminal to the downtown area is cost, which NICTD President Michael Noland said could be as much as $250 million.

Relocating at the airport, though, would cost an estimated $50 million to $75 million.

NICTD officials have said one reason for considering the move at the airport now is because funding for it might be available under the Investment in Infrastructure and Jobs Act.

The ultimate goal of the relocation would be to create a running time of as few as 90 minutes between the airport and downtown Chicago.

Loan to Help Finance West Lake Corridor

June 20, 2022

The U.S. Department of Transportation has provided a $203.3 million Rehabilitation and Improvement Program loan to help fund the West Lake Corridor Project in Northwest Indiana.

The agency is building an 8-mile extension of the South Shore Line from Hammond to Dyer, Indiana.

The loan will be used to pay for about a third of the the $852 million in eligible project costs. It was issued by USDOT’s Build America Bureau to the Indiana Finance Authority on behalf of South Shore parent agency the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District.

The West Lake Corridor is being built on and along a former Monon Railroad right of way and is slated to open in 2025. It will have four new stations.

Other federal funding of the project includes a $354.6 million grant from the Federal Transit Administration.

Michigan City Street Running End Draws Near

February 23, 2022

The near end of street running on 11th Street in Michigan City, Indiana, is set to unfold next week.

The Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District said that starting Feb. 28 buses would replace trains between South Shore Line stations at Carroll Avenue in Michigan City and Dune Park in Porter, Indiana.

South Shore freight service will continue operating in the street, but only at night. Also operating at night will be ferrying of South Shore equipment between Dune Park and Carrollton Avenue where the South Shore has its maintenance shop.

The bus-for-trains arrangement is expected to continue through fall 2022 and affects all scheduled trains seven days a week.

NICTD is undertaking a 25-mile $491 million double-tracking project between Michigan City and Gary, Indiana.

The project involves realigning tracks in Michigan City to eliminate street running. The double-tracking project is expected to be completed in 2024.

Officials have said double tracking will cut the running time between Chicago and Michigan City by 33 minutes.

Land Transfer To Enable South Shore Track Project

January 8, 2022

A land transfer agreement completed in late December has enabled an Indiana commuter railroad to clear another hurdle in the South Shore double tracking project.

The Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District and Chicago, South Shore & South Bend completed a transaction with Northern Indiana Public Service Company that will enable double tracking of 17 miles of the South Shore between Gary and Michigan City to proceed.

In a news release, The CSS&SB said the double tracking will also boost its freight service.

NICTD oversees the South Shore Line commuter service between Chicago and South Bend, Indiana, while the CSS&SB is a freight railroad owned by Anacostia Rail Holdings.

The $300 million double-tracking project is expected to be completed by April 2024.

Currently the line has eight miles of double-track between Gary and Michigan City.

Funding for the project is coming from a variety of federal, state and private funds.

In a news release, Anacostia  said trains face a congestion at Burns Harbor where CSS&SB and NICTD trains share a single-track main line.

The release said once double tracking is completed, freight switching will be conducted north of the main line.

“This will allow CSS&SB to use some of NIPSCO’s now idle Bailly Generation Station  property to foster business development in Northwest Indiana,” the news release said.

Indiana High Court Rules Against Track Worker

December 21, 2021

An Indiana court has ruled that the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District is a “political subdivision” of the state.

The Indiana Supreme Court made the finding in upholding a lower court ruling involving a case in which a track worker filed a claim for damages after he injured his shoulder while driving spikes.

NICTD operates the South Shore Line commuter service between Chicago and South Bend, Indiana.

The injury to the track worker occurred in Illinois and the injured worker, Clarence Lowe, of Hobart, Indiana, has originally sued NICTD in an Illinois court.

After that court dismissed the claim because NICTD did not give consent to being sued in Illinois, Lowe filed a notice of tort claim in Indiana in October 2018.

The issue in the case decided by the Indiana high court was whether NICTD was a “political subdivision” of the state.

If so, then claims against it must be filed within 180 days of the date of the injury. However, Lowe filed his notice of tort claim 263 days after he had been injured.

In his petition to the Indiana Supreme Court, Lowe argued that federal law enabled him to sue NICTD within 270 days of an injury.

That contention was rejected by the Indiana Court of Appeals, which dismissed Lowe’s lawsuit against NICTD because it had not been filed within 180 days of his injury.

NICTD OKs Contract for South Shore Track Work

November 26, 2021

A $304.8 million contract has been approved for the double tracking of the South Shore Line in Indiana.

The Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District governing board approved the pact with a joint venture of the Walsh and Herzog constructions companies.

The project involves creating a second main track over 26.6 miles between Gary and Michigan City.

Once the work is completed, South Shore trains will no longer run in the street in Michigan City.

NITCD officials have said the running times to downtown Chicago will be reduced once the project is completed in 2024.

An earlier request for proposals for the project resulted in bids that came in far higher than agency officials had expected.

Consequently, NITCD’s board directed agency staff to rework the project to lower its cost.

This included breaking up the work into separate deals and buying raw materials needed so that the bidders would not have to factor the cost of those materials into their bids.

Some elements of the project were made optional and will depend on how much federal funding the agency is awarded.

During the time when the second track is being built, train service will be suspended on some South Shore segments and replaced by bus service.

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.