Mayor, NICTD to seek funds for South Shore study (M City)

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Mayor, NICTD to seek funds for South Shore study (M City)

Postby justalurker66 » Thu Dec 03, 2009 1:21 am

Mayor, NICTD to seek funds for South Shore study
http://thenewsdispatch.com/main.asp?Sec ... leID=27377

MICHIGAN CITY - Michigan City Mayor Chuck Oberlie said he will join the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District in seeking federal funds for a preliminary engineering study of the South Shore Line relocation that analyzes a northern corridor near the Amtrak line.

The City Council voted 6-3 in favor of a resolution co-sponsored by Rich Murphy, D-1st Ward, and Bob McKee, D-at-Large at the Tuesday council meeting. Council members Angie Nelson, D-at-Large, Ron Meer, D-3rd Ward, and Willie Milsap, D-5th Ward, voted against the resolution.

Murphy said the resolution addresses "significant community concerns" about NICTD's plan that were raised at several public forums. Among the concerns were the possible closing of 17 of 34 street crossings along the 10th and 11th street corridor, demolition of more than 100 houses and businesses, upkeep of the corridor and impact on the quality of life of area residents.

Mark Yagelski, county councilman and member of the NICTD board, offered to clarify NICTD's perspective.

"NICTD has no problem with it (North End) if it can get the funding for it," Yagelski said. "As earmarks are getting less and less, we're looking for a process to finance this. We're going to have to make some sound decisions and not keep talking."

Parsons noted that NICTD's own analysis of realigning the existing corridor or moving to the northern route showed that the cost of the northern route was three times higher because it requires a 9,000-foot elevation estimated to cost about $300 million.


And so the odyssey continues ...
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Re: Mayor, NICTD to seek funds for South Shore study (M City)

Postby ohioriverrailway » Fri Dec 04, 2009 1:31 pm

This looks like its headed toward a classic case of "paralysis thru analysis." They're going to study it to death, the costs are going to spiral and the chances of an operationally-sound route are going to diminish accordingly.

I really hate this PC, public participation stuff. Especially since 80% of the people that get involved wouldn't know a South Shore train if it hit them in the a$$.
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Re: Mayor, NICTD to seek funds for South Shore study (M City)

Postby superbad » Fri Dec 04, 2009 1:50 pm

I thought it had already been comcluded that they were going to rip up 11th street?!? an yes, this is turning into 'paralysis by study' I like that term. Sounds like the Georgia way of running stuff into the ground. I still miss living there and at least there is commuter rail to someplace!
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Re: Mayor, NICTD to seek funds for South Shore study (M City)

Postby justalurker66 » Fri Dec 04, 2009 4:35 pm

Well if a South Shore train hits you in the a$$, the current running on 11th St is the most likely place for it to happen (unless you are trespassing).

I did notice that the $200 million dollar bridge became a $300 million dollar bridge over the past six months ... any study will have to involve the alternatives (including the dreaded "do nothing"). It just seems more presentable to residents to say that the northern route would be studied (with the new 11th St alignment an alternative ... and the CSX route thrown in for good measure) than it would be to have the 11th St route studied with the north route being an alternative. It's all in the presentation.

Now they just have to get funding for the study then funding for the project.
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Re: Mayor, NICTD to seek funds for South Shore study (M City)

Postby dinwitty » Sat Dec 05, 2009 6:31 pm

11th street itself isn't getting ripped up, but mostly the buildings on the south side would have to be razed, 11th street will likely get a do-over as a result of the track move anyways. To me its just as important to keep it nearby resident friendly yet work on a downtown development and some attraction for business, the move of passengers from Carroll to downtown may create a little habib for business this or that. I do wonder about the many street closings. But I think the studies are important to finding the best result for the re-alignment to happen.
BTW you may as well make it the potential plan for it to be thru-double track even tho for now it may be mostly single with a passing track.

The concept of the South Shore running on the city street makes it that streetcar-interurban flavor, is the concept of a more commuter line disconnect the line from the interurban/street car atmosphere intimacy? Is it just a place for riders to get on for Chicago or can it also be a place to come to, to visit and fun around a bit also? Be able to get off the train at MC wander a bit for a restaurant, shop, or see a show?

What role will MC take for all this? This is what I look for.
Plug ideas in.
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Re: Mayor, NICTD to seek funds for South Shore study (M City)

Postby justalurker66 » Sat Dec 05, 2009 7:22 pm

In my opinion: If NICTD could move their shops they would move them to the west side of Michigan City and discard service to the east in the process. But that level of abandonment isn't likely and there is still a demand for service from and to South Bend. Besides, land isn't available for a relocation and the cost of moving all that stuff at Carroll Ave would likely leave them with a split operation - a car yard on the west side of town and mechanical shops on the east side of town. They would still need a connection between the two and if we are going to spend the money (yes we, NICTD isn't paying for this - WE ARE paying) to build a connection between the line west of Michigan City and the shops they might as well use their current yard.

BTW: NICTD is running out of space at the current shops complex for car storage. They have enough for the current fleet but expansion in their yard is limited by wetlands. If West Lake is approved those cars will not come home to Michigan City at night so NICTD won't need room for them. But NICTD did manage to get a section of land north and west of the Carroll Ave station for car storage. A portion of it was roped off and marked for passenger parking this summer but when they bought it from the county the stated purpose was car storage. There is still plenty of room to the north of the roped off section that NICTD owns. They could store several trains there without closing the new passenger parking lot. If the northerly route is chosen the trains will pass right by it on the way into the shops. But again, I don't expect NICTD to need additional car storage (although the extra room could make yard movements easier).

Here's a thought: Use the northern alignment and build a new shops station on that triangle of land. Get the passengers away from the current limited shops parking lot ... put in a high level platform on the west side of the new parking area and keep the commuters away from downtown. A stop could still be made at the Amtrak station (where parking would be more limited than the land they own or the proposed new station downtown) for non-express trains. (Some trains would become expresses from Shops to Dune Park with others serving the intermediates.)

Just a thought ...
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Re: Mayor, NICTD to seek funds for South Shore study (M City)

Postby dinwitty » Sun Dec 06, 2009 10:04 am

I think the north side run has been totally nixed, its a longer run, and more costly.

I think NICTD has been looking at the scheduling, minute by minute, shaving a minute helps.

It seems we tend to look at the Amtrak station as a transfer point, or a combining of station services. Didnt serve to well at South Bend, look where the SS is.

It doesnt feel right when you have to rip/raze buildings for this at least for the immediate downtown. This seems to be a difficult project to get just right and make it work.
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Re: Mayor, NICTD to seek funds for South Shore study (M City)

Postby superbad » Mon Dec 07, 2009 3:01 pm

well, if there are extensions to valpo and lowell, I assume that those trains will be stored at the ends of those lines. I also am going to make a wild assumption that those lines are going to be desiel and will be void of any MU's. By the time those extensions(if) happen the dual mode engines that are being used for montreal and NJT will have been tested for some time.
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Re: Mayor, NICTD to seek funds for South Shore study (M City)

Postby justalurker66 » Mon Dec 07, 2009 3:08 pm

Yep ... the only new cars in Michigan City would be if more gallery cars showed up for use on the main line. Not likely in the near future with ridership down.
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Re: Mayor, NICTD to seek funds for South Shore study (M City)

Postby Nasadowsk » Wed Dec 09, 2009 7:32 pm

superbad wrote: By the time those extensions(if) happen the dual mode engines that are being used for montreal and NJT will have been tested for some time.


The NJT DMs are also 11/25 kv AC units. And just because they exist doesn't mean they work - the LIRR's dual modes are lucky to last 10,000 miles between breakdowns, and haven't gotten better with age.

Oddly, the P-32AC DM would likely work - IIRC the DC link is 1.5kv on them, which is why they suck so much on third rail. On the South Shore's 1.5kv system, they'd likely be able to be rated for full time operation on catenary, given the catenary's close to the DC link voltage and the fault currents aren't very high - third rail systems can deliver amperage in 6 figure numbers when things go bad - it's a big part of WHY dual modes on third rail have been such disasters. legend has it when the FL-9 was developed, EMD's engineers never realized that 10,000 amp currents are *normal* in third rail operation. I bet you wouldn't see that on a diesel generator of that vintage even into a dead short. Or at least not for long...
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What's next in the South Shore issue

Postby justalurker66 » Mon Dec 21, 2009 6:53 pm

http://thenewsdispatch.com/main.asp?Sec ... leID=27751

A nice end of the year rehash story ...
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Re: Mayor, NICTD to seek funds for South Shore study (M City)

Postby neroden » Sat Jan 02, 2010 8:35 pm

MICHIGAN CITY - Michigan City Mayor Chuck Oberlie said he will join the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District in seeking federal funds for a preliminary engineering study of the South Shore Line relocation that analyzes a northern corridor near the Amtrak line.

Among the concerns were the possible closing of 17 of 34 street crossings along the 10th and 11th street corridor, demolition of more than 100 houses and businesses,


Bleh!

The northern route may cost three times as much, but if the 10th/11th street route requires demolishing over 100 houses and businesses, the northern route is the only one with a chance. This isn't the 1950s. The way you get things done is to demolish as few homes as possible.

In that last article, the South Shore says they don't want to be dependent on Amtrak scheduling because they're already dependent on scheduling at Kensington (reading between the lines). Why hasn't anyone proposed electrifying the two 'freight' lines on the Illinois Central (now that CN is mostly moving away from it) and putting the South Shore trains there? That would move the merge point with Metra all the way to Roosevelt Road, which should allow for alleviation of that problem (and super-express running for the South Shore north of Kensington, too)....
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Re: Mayor, NICTD to seek funds for South Shore study (M City)

Postby jb9152 » Sat Jan 02, 2010 8:53 pm

neroden wrote:
MICHIGAN CITY - Michigan City Mayor Chuck Oberlie said he will join the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District in seeking federal funds for a preliminary engineering study of the South Shore Line relocation that analyzes a northern corridor near the Amtrak line.

Among the concerns were the possible closing of 17 of 34 street crossings along the 10th and 11th street corridor, demolition of more than 100 houses and businesses,


Bleh!

The northern route may cost three times as much, but if the 10th/11th street route requires demolishing over 100 houses and businesses, the northern route is the only one with a chance. This isn't the 1950s. The way you get things done is to demolish as few homes as possible.


Well, no. The way you get things done these days is to secure the funding, which will not be forthcoming if the project does not meet federal guidelines. Very little chance of that happening if the northern route is more expensive by a factor of three.

neroden wrote:In that last article, the South Shore says they don't want to be dependent on Amtrak scheduling because they're already dependent on scheduling at Kensington (reading between the lines). Why hasn't anyone proposed electrifying the two 'freight' lines on the Illinois Central (now that CN is mostly moving away from it) and putting the South Shore trains there? That would move the merge point with Metra all the way to Roosevelt Road, which should allow for alleviation of that problem (and super-express running for the South Shore north of Kensington, too)....


Because NICTD doesn't own those tracks. The costs and time necessary to acquire them and construct OCS are prohibitive, to say the least. Not to say that it won't happen in the future, but right now the railroad's two biggest (related) priorities are getting out of the asphalt on 10th and 11th Streets, and complying with the 2015 Positive Train Control mandate.

Regarding being subject to other railroad's control - South Shore trains already deal with the 10th Street Interlocking in Michigan City, where Amtrak, as the senior railroad, gets precedence. They also deal with freight crossings by NS, CSX, and IHB in addition to being completely under the control of Metra on the MED from Kensington north. NICTD does not want to put yet more of their railroad, and therefore their ability to control their own destiny, in the hands of another railroad.

And before you ask me how I know all this - while I prefer to keep my anonymity on these boards so I can speak a bit more freely, suffice to say that I was *very* involved in this process.
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Re: Mayor, NICTD to seek funds for South Shore study (M City)

Postby dinwitty » Sun Jan 03, 2010 8:36 am

There's really 2 things happening here, because it involves Michigan City something else has to happen that ties into this project, and thats downtown development.
The right thing to happen is to attract business in, you will have more people terminating downtown than at shops as they will close that station.
That makes a great spot for restaurants, some shopping. If you plan right it fits perfectly. It just takes the right ideas and the input of all involved to make it work.

If you simply -only- do the railroad re-alignment, you miss on the other opportunities it can generate, you have to do some "business" thinking.
I have said it before, a developer in Mishawaka opened an area and built a whole lot of business buildings and they look like your old traditional old town buildings like how downtown MC is, but they are all new. If you find the right developer the same kind of thing can happen for downtown MC. Downtown MC was the major Business district, now you have a Mall and big box stores south, to generate downtown interest you have to do -something- to bring business back.
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Re: Mayor, NICTD to seek funds for South Shore study (M City)

Postby justalurker66 » Tue Jan 05, 2010 2:50 am

NICTD is in the business of operating a commuter railroad. Land development for other purposes is not their job. If the city or some company wants to come along and redevelop downtown that is fine, but NICTD does not need to tie their future to anything other than running trains.

As far as the CN-IC tracks ... it would be interesting to buy one or two of them, especially if West Lake is approved and the added capacity is needed even more. The merge would have to be south of McCormick Place since Lake Shore Drive took away the old "Specials" track to the east and the Busway and condo developments have taken away the space to the west. If I had unlimited funds I'd spend some of them north of Roosevelt Rd and convert the 4th track out of Millennium Station as a South Shore specific main line with it's own platform at Van Buren St. But it appears that METRA likes to use that track for car storage and the Busway again interferes with building a track to the east. (And while I'm rambling on, moving to the CN-IC would require reopening long closed steam line stations or the construction of new stations, let alone hanging cantenary. I believe CN kept the mains in good working order so no track upgrade would be immediate.)

As far as METRA goes ... It is January, I can say "later this year" we will see the construction of the Kensington bypass track which will help with the five inbound rush hour trains that don't stop there - and perhaps the three outbounds as well if the design is good. (I have a guess but would love a description.) How messed up are they? While NICTD has ceeded control of the final 14.5 miles is it really that much of a problem? Getting in and out via the single track bottlenecks at Millennium Park and Kensington seem to be the biggest issues. The miles in between are just going with their flow.
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