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

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  by orulz
 
Exactly.

When you start talking about condemning Homes (the capital H is intentional) is when you start encountering opposition. Particularly when you are talking about condemning an entire row of Homes from one side of town to the other. It doesn't matter if it is the simplest, the cheapest, or the most technically superior route. It doesn't matter if the homes are inexpensive, dilapidated, or even if half of the homes are vacant. If too many homes will be destroyed, the alignment is politically infeasible. 10 or so condemnations? Sure. This many? Sorry. At the end of the day NICTD is a public organization and must therefore answer to the public.

I would say that the 11th street option is dead. The sooner it's officially dropped the better, because the longer it persists, the more negative press that this project will attract.
  by justalurker66
 
The provided numbers below are parcels, not actual homes or businesses. Some parcels are may be vacant.

Option 1 (11th St): 177 residential parcels, 32 commercial/other parcels
Option 2 (CSX): 98 residential parcels, 77 commercial/other parcels (not including new yard location)
Option 3A (near Michigan Ave): 73 residential parcels, 79 commercial/other parcels
Option 3 (west of Trail Creek->NKP): 29 residential parcels, 55 commercial/other parcels
Option 5 (elevated): 22 residential parcels, 78 commercial/other parcels
Option 4 (east of Trail Creek->NKP): 22 residential parcels, 64 commercial/other parcels
Option 6 (US 12 relocation): 25 residential parcels, 221 commercial/other parcels
Option 7 (US 12 and Amtrak relocation): 24 residential parcels, 242 commercial/other parcels

From a pure "number of properties" standpoint options 4 and 5 are the lowest impact. The elevated option 5 would place a $196.7 million dollar wall across the lakefront. Option 4 has two choke points: A 15MPH crossing of Amtrak through turnouts and a new swing bridge on Trail Creek (separate from Amtrak's).
  by justalurker66
 
On Wednesday night the company leading the study gave a presentation (no public response allowed). In two weeks there will be another public hearing where response will be allowed. From The News Dispatch:
MICHIGAN CITY — The cost of the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District’s South Shore realignment plan could be anywhere from $82 million to $268 million.
. . .
TransSystems project manager Bill Schafer outlined seven possible routes the South Shore could take through Michigan City when the realignment is completed. The least expensive option is one that would go through the city’s North End, crossing a sharp curve that would require the speed to be limited to 30 miles per hour.

The station, if that plan is adopted, would be located by the current Blocksom property, which Schaefer said “contradicts the city’s redevelopment plan” for the Trail Creek Open Space Corridor.

NICTD Marketing Director John Parsons said the quickest option through the city would be one where the new rail eventually merges with the current CSX railroad, an idea centered on the city’s South End.

“Our objective is to increase ridership,” Parsons said. “That happens when stops and travel time are reduced.”
http://thenewsdispatch.com/articles/201 ... 504191.txt

It looks like 3 or 3A and 2 are the options being discussed above. 3/3A "the cheapest" would stay west of Trail Creek with NICTD crossing the Amtrak line east of the current Amtrak station before making the turn south along Trail Creek. 2 "the quickest" would follow the CSX alignment through the city and (as originally presented) would have a new NICTD maintaince facility east of the city near Royal Rd or east of US212.
  by justalurker66
 
"Progress Status Update Report Presentation to City Council February 1, 2012 (PDF) (6.35MB)" has been posted to the Michigan City website ...

http://emichigancity.com/cityhall/depar ... /index.htm

There have been some modifications to the options. Option 1 now closely follows 10th St and 11th St mostly within the current ROW, providing a two track railroad, service lane and single traffic lane divided from the service lane by a Jersey barrier. (And when I say "within the current ROW" I mean the ROW ... the current curbs would be moved back 15ft.)

Option 3A (west of Trail Creek and north of 8th St over to the Nickle Plate) is not shown.

A chart shows the fastest potential new path being 10th/11th St ... a 2.98 minute trip instead of 15.72 minutes. All the other options would take at least twice as long with option three being nearly 8 minutes.

Three station concepts for each major option are included showing where platforms and parking would be. NICTD would build out a 500 space lot expandable to 800 spaces in any of the options.

And the price: Just under $100 million for options 3 and 4 (ground level, west and east of Trail Creek, respectively). Just over $100 million for the 10th/11th St path. Over $200 million for either option 2 (CSX path) or option 6 (relocate US12 and everything between US12 and Trail Creek). (All figures include a 25% contingency.) This includes land acquisition (which is reduced along 10th/11th st as the proposal now uses the current ROW).
  by Tadman
 
OY, this is absurdity. Thank God we protect ourselves so much, and best of luck to anybody that wishes to build the next Brooklyn Bridge or Hoover Dam. 100+ years of EIS followed by public comment, before you know it the climate has changed enough you'll be able to drive over the seabed between Brooklyn and Manhattan. In your hover car.

At this point is it cheaper to build two more tracks along NS(NYC) from Burns Harbor to Rolling Prairie? There's hardly any residential land to be purchased and it gets the railroad out of the national park. Michigan City commuters would have to drive a few miles south of town to a rural station, but that's no different than Chesterton commuters driving to Dune Park.
  by justalurker66
 
Tadman wrote:At this point is it cheaper to build two more tracks along NS(NYC) from Burns Harbor to Rolling Prairie? There's hardly any residential land to be purchased and it gets the railroad out of the national park. Michigan City commuters would have to drive a few miles south of town to a rural station, but that's no different than Chesterton commuters driving to Dune Park.
They are trying to make the journey as short and fast as possible. Rerouting through LaPorte doesn't do that.
  by dinwitty
 
reducing 11th street making it one way sounds like the practical idea, especially if you can do it without trashing a lot of buildings, I am really all for keeping it downtown. It needs to coincide with a downtown development instead of shoving the route north or south.

The cheapest route aint the shortest route, it has to be the route with the best time, you have to match money to practicality, when you need to do something and do it the right way. do it THAT way and put the money behind it. In the long run it may pay back.
  by justalurker66
 
dinwitty wrote:BTW the pdfs in the report are corrupted dont work.
I wish they would just make online versions.
They worked for me. Odd.

BTW: The next public meeting is February 23rd at 6:30-8:30pm CT ... Michigan City City Hall.
  by justalurker66
 
Residents give input on rail realignment

MICHIGAN CITY — A variety of concerns regarding the possible realignment of the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District’s South Shore tracks were tossed around by members of the public during a council workshop on the matter Thursday evening.

http://thenewsdispatch.com/articles/201 ... 631783.txt

The process now goes to the decision making stage. A route will be chosen by a group of eight people, four representing the city and four representing the railroad. They will come up with a final determination. Perhaps this one will really be final and the losers who don't get the route they want won't turn this into yet another wasted study,
  by Wingnut
 
justalurker66 wrote:Residents give input on rail realignment

The process now goes to the decision making stage. A route will be chosen by a group of eight people, four representing the city and four representing the railroad. They will come up with a final determination. Perhaps this one will really be final and the losers who don't get the route they want won't turn this into yet another wasted study,
Regardless of the route they settle on, there's no way it gets built in time to comply with the 2015 PTC mandate.

It's far from perfect, but would improving the 11th Street street running be an viable option? I see the River Line in Burlington NJ and the Gold Line in Highland Park, CA. The goal is to give SS trains a reserved lane, preferably unpaved. That could entail removing parallel parking from the street, trimming back sidewalks, and/or making the street one way. But this has a better chance of getting built then condemning a hundred homes and businesses.

Finally, according to RTA's ridership statistics, there's fewer than 200 daily boardings from Hudson and South Bend Airport anyway. Numbers here: http://www.rtams.org/rtams/metraHistori ... vel=branch I'm surprised opponents haven't seized on that and say that the MC shops and main station should be relocated to the west side of town and try rerouting the relatively few South Bend trains over the movable bridge at the Amtrak station.
  by justalurker66
 
Wingnut wrote:Regardless of the route they settle on, there's no way it gets built in time to comply with the 2015 PTC mandate.
I see three options:
1) PTC gets pushed back and the 2015 deadline does not have to be met.
2) NICTD presents their city approved plan for changing the run through Michigan City and gets a waiver.
3) NICTD complies with PTC by classifying the street running segment as yard track and complying under the rules for yard track.

The key now is to get an approved plan that NICTD can present to the DOT/FRA for funding and to demonstrate that they are making progress on PTC. Without a plan there will be no funding and no excuse that NICTD could use to get a waiver. NICTD would have to rely on PTC being pushed back nationally or the slower running of yard track.
The goal is to give SS trains a reserved lane, preferably unpaved. That could entail removing parallel parking from the street, trimming back sidewalks, and/or making the street one way. But this has a better chance of getting built then condemning a hundred homes and businesses.
That is basically what Option 1 has become ... and it comes in around an estimated 100 million to build. NICTD take over the entire 66ft ROW through town, cutting back sidewalks and parking on the south side of the street all the way to the edge of the ROW. They would place a two track railroad in the street with a service lane along the rails for NICTD vehicles. Then there would be a concrete jersey barrier dividing the tracks and service lane from what is left of the street. The curbs and sidewalks on the north side of the street would also be cut back.

If a single service lane is put in a 15ft driving lane and 4ft sidewalk would be available on the north side of the street. If two service lanes are put in for NICTD then there would only be 9ft left for a driving lane with no sidewalk. The 66ft ROW pushes the curb out about 15ft from where it currently is.

My objection to the new Option 1 is that instead of buying "a hundred homes and businesses" it simply removes the street in front of those homes and businesses. If you lived there would you rather lose your home or the street in front of it? (I'm assuming the homes would still be accessible via the alley behind them.) Even if the new Option 1 is eventually chosen, I would like to see a comparison between the cost of the original "one lot south" Option 1 and the new Option 1.
Finally, according to RTA's ridership statistics, there's fewer than 200 daily boardings from Hudson and South Bend Airport anyway. Numbers here: http://www.rtams.org/rtams/metraHistori ... vel=branch I'm surprised opponents haven't seized on that and say that the MC shops and main station should be relocated to the west side of town and try rerouting the relatively few South Bend trains over the movable bridge at the Amtrak station.
I don't believe there is room for a shops area and station on the west edge of town. If the station and shops were placed on the west edge of town the CSX alignment would probably work best to get trains through to the other side of town. The whole point of using the existing or one of the northern alignments is to keep the trains IN town, to serve the residents of Michigan City. If the Michigan City station isn't in town there is no reason not to put the tracks around the south side of town where the South Bend trains can run 79 MPH.

The question becomes where on the west side of town would you put such a station? If the location serves Michigan City no better than one on the CSX alignment then why not just choose Option 2?

The suggestion to put the station east of Michigan City near highway 212 was raised in the last public meeting. The CSX alignment would be used around town and commuters (who make up most of Michigan City's ridership) would have access to the station from US 20 from the south and US 12 from the north. Of course that breaks the promise of "Transit Oriented Development". A big station on the edge of the city doesn't bring development to the city. It would become a station like Hegewisch, Hammond or East Chicago where people drive in and leave with the only "TOD" being the coffee shop. (Which is all I expect regardless of the location chosen - but a city edge location takes any potential for TOD out of the city.)
  by spatcher
 
According to this article, the 11st route is dead.

http://m.nwitimes.com/business/transpor ... 68f39.html

"Hanas reported a joint NICTD-Michigan City committee studying a new route for the South Shore in the city has dropped a controversial plan to move current tracks slightly south along 10th and 11th streets. The plan would have necessitated taking homes along the route.
The committee now has turned its attention to the two remaining options, a more northerly route passing through the heart of downtown and a more southerly route using freight right of way belonging to the CSX Corp. railroad."
  by justalurker66
 
spatcher wrote:According to this article, the 11st route is dead.

http://m.nwitimes.com/business/transpor ... 68f39.html

"Hanas reported a joint NICTD-Michigan City committee studying a new route for the South Shore in the city has dropped a controversial plan to move current tracks slightly south along 10th and 11th streets. The plan would have necessitated taking homes along the route.
The committee now has turned its attention to the two remaining options, a more northerly route passing through the heart of downtown and a more southerly route using freight right of way belonging to the CSX Corp. railroad."
Wow ... now the battle becomes North vs South. Some at the meetings in February felt that the planning process was theatrical - that the deal was done and the choice was made and the process was simply going to confirm want NICTD wanted. I figured the 11th St route was in trouble because they modified it from the original out of the street (taking homes) proposal to one presented in February where most homes were not taken - they just had a fenced rail ROW instead of a sidewalk.

North vs South ... without 11th St to chose from I'd probably go south - although it will require a new car yard (not a bad idea) it gets the trains out of town and apparently, that is what the people of Michigan City want. Not a railroad that people would use to come TO Michigan City, but one people will use to leave it.
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