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.)