Posts Tagged ‘South Shore Line’

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.

South Shore Resumes Educational Programs

June 23, 2021

The South Shore Commuter line has resumed providing onboard educational programs by the Midwest Rail Rangers.

The programs are offered two to three times per month on Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Upcoming dates featuring the programs are July 1, and 25; Aug. 12, 21, and 29; and Sept. 2 and 19. Additional dates through November are listed at the Rail Rangers website.

Thursday programs are provided on eastbound train No. 7, departing Chicago’s Millennium Station at 8:45 a.m., with westbound programs on train No. 18, departing South Bend’s Airport station at 12:49 p.m.

On Saturdays and Sundays, eastbound programs are given on train No. 504, departing Chicago at 8:40 a.m., and westbound train No. 506, departing South Bend at 1:05 p.m.

The programs are offered in one car near the center of the train designated by yellow signs.

There is no additional cost to ticketed passengers to hear the programs and seating in the Rail Rangers car is on a first-come, first-served basis.

The programs are presented in partnership with the Northwest Indiana Commuter Transportation District and Indiana Dunes State Park.

InDOT to Rebuild Intersection to Accommodate South Shore Project

June 9, 2021

The Indiana Department of Transportation will rebuild a highway intersection in Gary to create space for a double tracking project by the South Shore Commuter rail line.

The work affects the junction of U.S. Routes 12 and 20 in Gary’s Miller neighborhood could begin as soon as Thursday.

The project is expected to be completed by September. It will allow for an expanded station and parking lots.

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 Bus Substitution Continues Today

February 17, 2021

Bus substitution for train service was continued into Wednesday on portions of the South Shore Line in Indiana.

The South Shore cited severe winter weather conditions for making the substitutions between South Bend and Michigan City, Indiana.

The railroad had instituted the substation on Feb. 13. It also substituted buses for trains over the same route segment during the weekend of Feb. 6-7.

The latest bus substitution was described as a precautionary measure because severe winter conditions can adversely affect operations.

South Shore Substitutes Buses for Trains

February 14, 2021

Buses are substituting for trains this weekend on parts of the South Shore Commuter line in Northern Indiana due to extreme cold weather.

The substitution is occurring between South Bend and the Carroll Avenue station in Michigan City, Indiana.

It is the second consecutive weekend that buses have replaced trains on that segment of the South Shore.

The substitution began on Saturday and was expected to continue through Sunday. The buses will not serve the Hudson Lake station.