Discussion related to commuter rail and rapid transit operations in the Chicago area including the South Shore Line, Metra Rail, and Chicago Transit Authority.

Moderators: JamesT4, metraRI

  by Tadman
 
I've been watching Green Frog's feature on the South Shore in the 1970's. There's extensive coverage of the old ground-level Gary station. From what I can gather, the new Gary station (1981-ish?) incorporated the following:
1. Elevate trackage over downtown
2. New station house and platforms
3. Replace two center stub tracks and a coach yard with two central sidings for layover cars.

What you don't see is the following
1. Broadway is not a busy street, the one grade crossing eliminated is a non-issue.
2. The new platform is low, the old one is high
3. The central stub-tracks were also platform tracks
4. The elevations is abrupt and sharp - ok for EMU's but a real bear for freights.
5. The railroad proceeds to cruise through the rest of Gary at street level.

Why not just rebuild the old station/platforms and leave well enough alone? This looks like someone took a million dollar project and made it into a ten million dollar project.
  by justalurker66
 
Tadman wrote:Why not just rebuild the old station/platforms and leave well enough alone? This looks like someone took a million dollar project and made it into a ten million dollar project.
Someone named Adam Benjamin Jr ... the person who has their name on the center.
Here is a Google Books excerpt:
http://books.google.com/books?id=ZNRx1L ... &q&f=false

According to the book, Representative Benjamin managed to get 65 million for the South Shore, including money for new cars and the $10 million center which bears his name. The transportation center serves local buses and Grayhound better than it serves trains.

In their defense, NICTD was new and was fortunate to get any funding. Both stations built in the early 80's were low platform (Dune Park was the other). If they had it to do over again I suspect that there would be high platforms and gauntlets.
  by Tadman
 
Hehe looks like I guessed right on the numbers...

Too bad the station was built in an age when "trains aren't coming back" was the accepted wisdom. A strong rebuilding of the existing station with added multi-modal links would've been far more useful even if it was shifted 50' south to make room for a tollway exit.
  by justalurker66
 
13 years later (1998) NICTD did it right with high level platforms at Hammond. East Chicago followed in 2005, then Hegewisch in 2006. Hopefully Dune Park will see high level platforms in the next year or two.

Upgrades in Gary are stalled waiting for money and local support. NICTD does not want to pay to upgrade two stations and so far doesn't have the money for one. Unless someone local finds the money it looks like Gary won't be changing for a while. It isn't that NICTD does not want to improve the station -they just don't currently have the support (money and political). NICTD resurfaced the platform in Gary in 2011 ... so it isn't completely forgotten.

Other than the lack of high platforms the Gary station design is functional. The tail track allows for the storage and turning of trains and has allowed for cars to be cut and added from through trains (although that is no longer done on a regular basis). The platform is too short to berth an eight car train so that would be a needed improvement along with a high level platform (and the related gauntlet tracks). The Metro Center itself is an eyesore that could use a remodel.

Moving the Gary station to a combined location near I-65 (closing Miller) is the likely solution.
  by Tadman
 
Does Gary still pull the ridership numbers it used to? I recall it was once one of the busiest stations on the system, but given the further economic troubles of the city and the far nicer stations on either side, is the station still as busy?
  by justalurker66
 
Tadman wrote:Does Gary still pull the ridership numbers it used to? I recall it was once one of the busiest stations on the system, but given the further economic troubles of the city and the far nicer stations on either side, is the station still as busy?
The busier stations are to the west. East Chicago and Hegewisch ... somewhere I have numbers, I'll have to look.

Unfortunately bad news out of East Chicago today ...
Man's throat slashed, car stolen in South Shore station attack
http://www.nwitimes.com/news/local/lake ... 9044d.html

EAST CHICAGO | Police are searching for a man who slashed another man's throat during a robbery at the South Shore station Monday night.

A 28-year-old Chicago man suffered a cut to his neck and lacerations on his hand when he was attacked in the men's bathroom about 5:42 p.m., police said.

Police are searching for the victim's car, a silver 2005 Honda Accord, which was taken from the train station, Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District Police Chief Bob Byrd said.
------
This was one of my favorite stations, and with the police station there I considered it a safe place to stop while railfanning. I've stopped there often and walked the platform from end to end to take photos. And a public restroom is welcome.

Gary seems a bit seedy at times - I suppose no place is 100% safe.
  by justalurker66
 
As for numbers ...
The ESTIMATED average daily ridership, adjusted based on placing a high level platform at Gary Metro and Miller:
Hegewisch 1471
Hammond 1097
East Chicago 2677
Gary/Chicago Airport 75
Gary Metro 754
Miller 1164
Ogden Dunes 443
Dune Park 885
Beverly Shores 58
11th St 134
Carroll Ave 175
Hudson Lake 23
South Bend 114

(Figures from the Final Operational, Facility, and Safety Improvement Assessment Report for Gary Station, 2011.)
  by buddah
 
justalurker66 wrote: This was one of my favorite stations, and with the police station there I considered it a safe place to stop while railfanning. I've stopped there often and walked the platform from end to end to take photos. And a public restroom is welcome.
Gary seems a bit seedy at times - I suppose no place is 100% safe.
Gary is just like any other city in America, safety all depends on how safe you actually feel with the inhabitants around you. however in Garys case I remember a few yrs back a report was released per square mile Gary IN was the most dangerous city in America when it came to murders (yet Detroit always held the overall top position as most dangerous respectively) and in the same year and less than 60 miles away from Gary, Naperville IL was rated #3 in the top 100 best place to live.

For once you lurker I share your view on the east Chicago station, I visited that station often as I had family in Schererville and would often use the east Chicago station and ask them to pick me up from there when I would visit them and did not fell like driving to IN. I always considered it one of the safer SS stations as it housed the small yet seemingly always empty police station yet cameras are placed all over the station and platform. As you said no matter what you are never 100% safe. Ive driven to the East Chicago station to take pictures as well on days off when passing by and since I drive a Lexus if this gentleman was targeted for an Accord, I will be a bit more vigilant & cautious now.

Garys station from what I remember, the debate it between the city and SS line as the city has its own plans for the station but not the funds, In turn the SS skipped any preliminary plans for Gary and as so forth been working on the rest of its stations on the line. Its a shame the Gary station has become such an I sore. However as Ive visited the station in the last few months I can say it will need more work than just the platform raised and extended.
1) The connecting metro center platform walkway IMHO, was/is a major blunder. How it is currently While in the metro center you need to travel up stairs to the second level to access the walkway then travel across the walkway which brings you back down to ground level when you reach the actual SS platform, in which you then need to travel up a story and 1 & 1/2 story of stairs again to get to the SS platform ( elevators are available but take my word you really don't want to use them). The up-down-up, is ridiculous like you said Tadman someone took a $1 million idea and tried to make it into a $10 mill idea. The walkway should have been left at ground level with a crosswalk made over the bus laneway connecting it to the metro center instead of it currently going over the bus lane, To me anyway that would have made a lot more sense.
2) The walkway is not heated or air conditioned so you can imagine the temp in there on a 100 degree day in the summer or below 0 in the winter, it also wreaks of a moldy smell.
3) The bus terminal setup is horrible too may turn around and not enough places for the buses to wait (will be explained later).
4) No passenger side shields along the trackage, I do believe passengers would appreciate a wind barrier between the northern platform track and the tollway. PS: One Would also be nice at the East Chicago station as well.
5) The sculpture level ( 3rd level in the metro center) should be opened and utilized for waiting passengers and TV screens added in there to pass the time.

The metro center is sort of the black sheep and the area around it does not help with abandoned apartment buildings and vacant houses around, the area seems non inviting. The Metro center could be a fine inter modal station, If you could get say the towns around the area to come together and have a feeder bus service dedicated to it with park and ride lots ( Glen park, Hobart, new Chicago, Lake Station,& Merrilville) buses pick up at park and ride lots and feed directly to the Metro center non stop. However with the SS expected 2 new rail lines that bus feeded initiative would be overly optimistic. Introduce more local Gary city bus services that feed into the metro center with the current SS schedule as well as access for megabus and dare I say it....Free Enterprise bus System. This however would need a reformed & replaced bus loading and standing area. The potential is there in my opinion for Gary to not be the step child and to 2x its passenger volume its just the vision and funding are not available.

I took this pic AUG 2012 from the Gary Platform ( drove to the station in my Lexus ) even though the sign does says "welcome to Gary" its not a warm welcome in the metro center at all.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected] ... /lightbox/
  by Tadman
 
You hit it on the head - I don't feel patently unsafe at Gary, but I do tread wisely. I also like to be in the train or my car, rather than on foot.

Also, the station itself isn't the worst, it just redefines "dilapidated". It's like nobody cares. You've got all these people that ride to work there every day, and 20 of them don't care enough to form a station council or a volunteer group to clean it up, so it smells awful, looks awful, and garbage builds up.
  by CHTT1
 
buddah wrote:
justalurker66 wrote: This was one of my favorite stations, and with the police station there I considered it a safe place to stop while railfanning. I've stopped there often and walked the platform from end to end to take photos. And a public restroom is welcome.
Gary seems a bit seedy at times - I suppose no place is 100% safe.
Gary is just like any other city in America, safety all depends on how safe you actually feel with the inhabitants around you. however in Garys case I remember a few yrs back a report was released per square mile Gary IN was the most dangerous city in America when it came to murders (yet Detroit always held the overall top position as most dangerous respectively) and in the same year and less than 60 miles away from Gary, Naperville IL was rated #3 in the top 100 best place to live.

For once you lurker I share your view on the east Chicago station, I visited that station often as I had family in Schererville and would often use the east Chicago station and ask them to pick me up from there when I would visit them and did not fell like driving to IN. I always considered it one of the safer SS stations as it housed the small yet seemingly always empty police station yet cameras are placed all over the station and platform. As you said no matter what you are never 100% safe. Ive driven to the East Chicago station to take pictures as well on days off when passing by and since I drive a Lexus if this gentleman was targeted for an Accord, I will be a bit more vigilant & cautious now.

Garys station from what I remember, the debate it between the city and SS line as the city has its own plans for the station but not the funds, In turn the SS skipped any preliminary plans for Gary and as so forth been working on the rest of its stations on the line. Its a shame the Gary station has become such an I sore. However as Ive visited the station in the last few months I can say it will need more work than just the platform raised and extended.
1) The connecting metro center platform walkway IMHO, was/is a major blunder. How it is currently While in the metro center you need to travel up stairs to the second level to access the walkway then travel across the walkway which brings you back down to ground level when you reach the actual SS platform, in which you then need to travel up a story and 1 & 1/2 story of stairs again to get to the SS platform ( elevators are available but take my word you really don't want to use them). The up-down-up, is ridiculous like you said Tadman someone took a $1 million idea and tried to make it into a $10 mill idea. The walkway should have been left at ground level with a crosswalk made over the bus laneway connecting it to the metro center instead of it currently going over the bus lane, To me anyway that would have made a lot more sense.
2) The walkway is not heated or air conditioned so you can imagine the temp in there on a 100 degree day in the summer or below 0 in the winter, it also wreaks of a moldy smell.
3) The bus terminal setup is horrible too may turn around and not enough places for the buses to wait (will be explained later).
4) No passenger side shields along the trackage, I do believe passengers would appreciate a wind barrier between the northern platform track and the tollway. PS: One Would also be nice at the East Chicago station as well.
5) The sculpture level ( 3rd level in the metro center) should be opened and utilized for waiting passengers and TV screens added in there to pass the time.

The metro center is sort of the black sheep and the area around it does not help with abandoned apartment buildings and vacant houses around, the area seems non inviting. The Metro center could be a fine inter modal station, If you could get say the towns around the area to come together and have a feeder bus service dedicated to it with park and ride lots ( Glen park, Hobart, new Chicago, Lake Station,& Merrilville) buses pick up at park and ride lots and feed directly to the Metro center non stop. However with the SS expected 2 new rail lines that bus feeded initiative would be overly optimistic. Introduce more local Gary city bus services that feed into the metro center with the current SS schedule as well as access for megabus and dare I say it....Free Enterprise bus System. This however would need a reformed & replaced bus loading and standing area. The potential is there in my opinion for Gary to not be the step child and to 2x its passenger volume its just the vision and funding are not available.

I took this pic AUG 2012 from the Gary Platform ( drove to the station in my Lexus ) even though the sign does says "welcome to Gary" its not a warm welcome in the metro center at all.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected] ... /lightbox/
Nice photos. What kind of car did you say you drove?
  by justalurker66
 
buddah wrote:Ive driven to the East Chicago station to take pictures as well on days off when passing by and since I drive a Lexus if this gentleman was targeted for an Accord, I will be a bit more vigilant & cautious now.
I'm not sure the type of car made much of a difference ... but I suppose they can ask him when they catch him. He has been identified:
http://www.nwitimes.com/news/local/lake ... e9025.html
Garys station from what I remember, the debate it between the city and SS line as the city has its own plans for the station but not the funds, In turn the SS skipped any preliminary plans for Gary and as so forth been working on the rest of its stations on the line.
NICTD has plans posted on their News page that cover upgrading both Gary Metro and the Miller station (individually) or closing both and building a combined station east of I-65 (their preferred option). There is a materials yard where they want to put the planned combined station.

The separate station plans show a lot of work that could be done to keep the stations close to where they are ... but both stations would need adjustments to have a long piece of tangent track for the high level platforms.
  by Tadman
 
The suspect sounds like a nutball - after slashing a man and stealing his car, he went to Walgreens and bought three Lady Gaga CD's with the victim's credit cards.
  by buddah
 
CHTT1 wrote: Nice photos. What kind of car did you say you drove?
LOL, well to answer your question... http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected] ... /lightbox/

Tadman... you are surely on to something about the mugger as the story states... "buys 3 lady gaga cd at Walmart after the attack", Really? OK he's surely 51 cards short of a full deck, However it is the Gary IN area we speak of. I honestly believe the SS line is still a very safe way to travel and the stations are quite safe, also just to remind people a Metra conductor was mugged on Metras BNSF line just months earlier so your never really safe anywhere.

Lurker.... I have recently reviewed the links for the 3 station assessments, and over all the new Gateway station seems like a fairly suitable idea yet in all of the details it seems to be lacking 1 major instrument in making it a gateway station to eliminate Garys metro center, an adjacent bus terminal. For that reason alone currently I personally would not recommend it. Oddly enough the lowest cost proposal seems to be the improvements to Garys Metro center and station which I personally would be in favor of that station staying if one has to be chosen. Miller would be a toss up as the cost are higher than I would have ever imagined.
  by justalurker66
 
buddah wrote:Oddly enough the lowest cost proposal seems to be the improvements to Garys Metro center and station which I personally would be in favor of that station staying if one has to be chosen. Miller would be a toss up as the cost are higher than I would have ever imagined.
Upgrading Gary Metro and upgrading Miller are a package deal. While the pricing was separated the presentations, the concept of leaving Miller alone and only upgrading Gary Metro is not desirable by NICTD. They want ALL regular stations to be upgraded to high platforms. (Beverly Shores, Gary/Chicago Airport and Hudson Lake can remain low platform flag stops ... Ogden Dunes has the special ADA ramps which help in boardings. Planning is underway to upgrade Dune Park.)

If NICTD built a Gateway Station it would be up to the city of Gary to provide bus service to it. NICTD should not need to relocate the city's bus hub to build a new station.