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 jlaroccoii
 
I tend to agree with dinwitty. Why would you not want to work with the city for development? Any such action would only increase the ridership on the South Shore Line. But thats just my opinion. NICTD could promote it, with posters and billboards, like the line did in the early 20th century. Maybe even put some money into advertising, in the Chicago market, like METRA does.

In any event, I look forward to seeing what the outcome will be.
  by justalurker66
 
I'm not saying NICTD should not work with the city or whomever else wants to redevelop downtown Michigan City (or any other area along the line). What I am saying the money needs to come from the partner, not NICTD.
  by JLJ061
 
Considering the railroad has ceeded control of the last 14 miles into Chicago to another railroad for the past 80 years, it couldn't pose THAT much of a problem (except for the Kensington Interlocker).
  by jb9152
 
JLJ061 wrote:Considering the railroad has ceeded control of the last 14 miles into Chicago to another railroad for the past 80 years, it couldn't pose THAT much of a problem (except for the Kensington Interlocker).
What are you saying "couldn't pose THAT much of a problem"?
  by dinwitty
 
Lets bounce a train accidentally onto the IC freight tracks just to get a point across....

(referring to the old Lake Shore train that ran the end of track in East Chicago and jumped over the IHB., before there was Chicago entry)



I just heard about a thing going on about getting Metra/ South Shore riders to accept one another on the others trains, becaue for now, only South Shore ticket holders can ride South Shore and Metra only Metra, I can see the point but the South Shore trains are often packed coming in, lets jam some more.

I can understand the irate passenger waiting for the Metra and here a South Shore train passes up his/her station ...Zooom!

maybe they forgot about them expresses...
  by justalurker66
 
dinwitty wrote:Lets bounce a train accidentally onto the IC freight tracks just to get a point across....

(referring to the old Lake Shore train that ran the end of track in East Chicago and jumped over the IHB., before there was Chicago entry)
Fortunately the rails in place keep the bouncing to a minimum ... and if a NICTD train ended up on the CN-IC it wouldn't get far running out from under the wire.
I just heard about a thing going on about getting Metra/ South Shore riders to accept one another on the others trains, becaue for now, only South Shore ticket holders can ride South Shore and Metra only Metra, I can see the point but the South Shore trains are often packed coming in, lets jam some more.

I can understand the irate passenger waiting for the Metra and here a South Shore train passes up his/her station ...Zooom!
Discussion is ongoing in the Metra forum here ... but from my reading it is the stopping South Shore trains that are in question. A train pulls up to 57th St inbound to discharge and a local person cannot get on? Perhaps the illogical next step of stopping all trains (including Metra expresses) wherever there is a platform came out of the complaint, but the initial complaint was that NICTD would not allow boarding.

If South Chicago residents are having trouble telling the difference between the new(ish) NICTD bi-levels and Metra bi-levels perhaps a more distinctive color scheme is needed ... like an orange stripe down the side of the entire car. :-D (Nah, I'm over that ... I prefer the unstriped look on the 300 series.)
  by JLJ061
 
justalurker66 wrote:A train pulls up to 57th St inbound to discharge and a local person cannot get on? Perhaps the illogical next step of stopping all trains (including Metra expresses) wherever there is a platform came out of the complaint, but the initial complaint was that NICTD would not allow boarding.
It's the simple fact the NICTD is a "tenant" on Metra territory in the business sense, and NICTD is not in the business of transporting passengers solely on Metra territory; That's Metra's job, not theirs. Plus, any fares paid on NICTD trains go to NICTD, not Metra, and I'm sure Metra would not appreciate them taking away their fare-paying passengers!
If South Chicago residents are having trouble telling the difference between the new(ish) NICTD bi-levels and Metra bi-levels perhaps a more distinctive color scheme is needed ... like an orange stripe down the side of the entire car. :-D (Nah, I'm over that ... I prefer the unstriped look on the 300 series.)
That was the FIRST thing that came to my mind when the 300's first went in service. I wonder how many people have made that mistake of somehow interpreting "NICTD" as "Metra?" :-D
  by neroden
 
jb9152 wrote:
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.
I politely beg to differ. A project which is locally unpopular and involves demolishing over 100 homes *will not happen*. Can you visualize the mayor of Michigan City grandstanding in the middle of 11th Street? I can. You can tear down houses only when a lot of people think it's worth it, and they're not going to see it for the "same route" project: the benefits range from the invisible to the invisible.
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.
I realize that NICTD is money-starved, but have they actually worked out what it's going to cost to demolish 100 homes? It's a recipe for delaying the project for a decade. Which may be the actual plan, of course, for all I know. "Securing the funding" for something opposed by the local government is no recipe for success, it's just a recipe for lawsuits.

If it were just a matter of expanding into people's yards it would be different. If the plan involves knocking down more than a few houses, I expect it will never happen, unless some rich developer sees a way to make a buck on it and buys the local government.

The fact that the mayor *still* wants the northern route examined is a tipoff that the political headwinds are against knocking people's houses down. If you want the 11th Street route to work, come up with a scheme which doesn't involve knocking down houses. (Surely it's wide enough for local access and railroad tracks? Why would houses need to be demolished?)
  by jb9152
 
neroden wrote:
jb9152 wrote:
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.
I politely beg to differ. A project which is locally unpopular and involves demolishing over 100 homes *will not happen*. Can you visualize the mayor of Michigan City grandstanding in the middle of 11th Street? I can. You can tear down houses only when a lot of people think it's worth it, and they're not going to see it for the "same route" project: the benefits range from the invisible to the invisible.
The project is not "locally unpopular", first of all. Reaction has been quite muted, with the exception of a small group of "North Enders" (the leadership of which, by the way, doesn't live in the project area) who think that the Coast Guard is going to allow the railroad to build a fixed-span bridge well under the 46' required. I politely beg to differ as well. *That* will not happen.

By the way, that north end group's motives are not to save 100 homes, they are that they believe a northern route will be more scenic and present a better image to people coming into Michigan City. They also believe that a multi-modal station on the lakeshore is a good thing. Their motives are not wrong-headed in any sense, but their vision is simply not constructible under Coast Guard regs. If you want to see an uproar, watch what happens when you tell all those sailboat owners that they no longer have access to Lake Michigan because a low railroad bridge is being constructed. No, the only way to do the northern route as proposed by the "north end" group is to build a 46' high bridge, matching the height of Route 12.

Also - it was the city which actually suggested the 11th Street alignment, not NICTD. I seriously doubt the mayor is going to be grandstanding anywhere when it was his administration that moved the conceptual alignment to where it is right now.
neroden wrote:
jb9152 wrote: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.
I realize that NICTD is money-starved, but have they actually worked out what it's going to cost to demolish 100 homes?
Yes. An engineering consultant has prepared a cost estimate for the entire 11th Street project, plus an estimate for the northern route, plus an estimate for the southern route over CSX. The northern route is more expensive by a factor of three. Death knell right there, if federal money is going to be needed (which is a no-brainer).
neroden wrote:It's a recipe for delaying the project for a decade. Which may be the actual plan, of course, for all I know. "Securing the funding" for something opposed by the local government is no recipe for success, it's just a recipe for lawsuits.
As noted, it's not "opposed by the local government". And the actual plan is not to delay this any longer than it needs to be delayed. The 2015 positive train control mandate is what's driving this.
neroden wrote:If it were just a matter of expanding into people's yards it would be different. If the plan involves knocking down more than a few houses, I expect it will never happen, unless some rich developer sees a way to make a buck on it and buys the local government.
How would you propose, exactly, "expanding into people's yards" with a railroad ROW? Where are they going to exit their homes, which now abut a fence and ballast? That's just silliness.
neroden wrote:The fact that the mayor *still* wants the northern route examined is a tipoff that the political headwinds are against knocking people's houses down. If you want the 11th Street route to work, come up with a scheme which doesn't involve knocking down houses. (Surely it's wide enough for local access and railroad tracks? Why would houses need to be demolished?)
The mayor wants the northern route examined because it IS a politically sensitive project, but any detailed engineering study of that northern route will inevitably include an absolutely *huge* railroad bridge - 46' over Trail Creek at its apex, and climbing at a gentle grade of no more than 1.4%. That's a fence across the lakeshore view, which is the crown jewel possession of the north end of the city. Any hope for redevelopment of the north end of the city would end right there.

Re: 11th Street - there is no scheme that doesn't involve knocking down houses, if only one lane of 11th Street is to be taken (as is the case), and room is to be provided in the ROW for future double track.
  by justalurker66
 
neroden wrote:The fact that the mayor *still* wants the northern route examined is a tipoff that the political headwinds are against knocking people's houses down. If you want the 11th Street route to work, come up with a scheme which doesn't involve knocking down houses. (Surely it's wide enough for local access and railroad tracks? Why would houses need to be demolished?)
Perhaps the view of the street is different from NY. jb lives in Michigan City, I've followed the trains through there (literally) for decades. There is not enough room for a road and a railroad without taking out whatever is on one side of the road. (Unless by "local access road" you mean "single lane alley" - which does no one any good as frontage for their 11th St home or business.)

Without losing buildings there is room for a good road or a good railroad. At the moment there is a decent road restricted by the movement of 43+ trains per day where cars have to straddle the tracks to pass parked cars on 10th St, risking flat tires and head on collisions, and parking is limited on 11th St (plus stopping for a left turn can leave you in the path of a train). There is also a decent railroad restricted by speed to half of what it will be in it's own trackbed and only one way at a time. Not to mention the hazards to both road and railroad when vehicles collide.

The plan needs some tweaks. Cutting road access a few blocks from a school isn't good. The other 16 crossings eliminated make a lot of sense, in my opinion. The mayor's request is semantics. The bottom line of the study is how to best get the trains from point A (Shops) to point B (Sheridan). There are three rough routes to consider. He just named the one that the loudest voices support. Being loud doesn't make you right.

(The only northern option to the bridge would be to run tracks on the west side of the canal ... but that takes up space that others want to develop and restricts access to the waterway. It will likely be an option in the study but, like the other non-11th St options, one that is rejected due to costs/environmental concerns. While the removal of "100 homes" has shock value, there are other concerns at play here. Environmentally, 11th St remains the best route.)
  by jb9152
 
justalurker66 wrote: (The only northern option to the bridge would be to run tracks on the west side of the canal ... but that takes up space that others want to develop and restricts access to the waterway. It will likely be an option in the study but, like the other non-11th St options, one that is rejected due to costs/environmental concerns. While the removal of "100 homes" has shock value, there are other concerns at play here. Environmentally, 11th St remains the best route.)
I've seen this one and some variations floated. It's known as the "Blocksome Plan", and it would be one way of going north without crossing Trail Creek, for sure. The problem with that one, from what I understand, has always been the desire to develop a "River Walk"-type area along the creek, and the ROW's location close to the Blue Chip Casino. The city has no desire to have SouthShore Freight trains running past those locations. But it is feasible from an engineering standpoint, and could be considered in the study as an option to the Amtrak northern route.
  by BSUmusicman
 
Would this "Blocksome Plan" run kind of parallel to US35, cross U.S. 12 either under the end of the bridge or at a grade crossing and merge into the north Amtrak route? I don't see a huge deal with running a ROW near the channel. Although not the most eye appealing, it is probably the most feasible without buying and tearing down 100 homes as well as the use of the Amtrak station, which would eliminate more cost (except high-level platforms). We can all speculate and put our opinions in, but if any of us are right..well we will find out sooner or later.
  by justalurker66
 
Under the bridge would be too close to the channel and wouldn't clear the turning basin. The line would have to be closer to US35. It would add three tight curves to the line (at least). Future double tracking would be more difficult. I would be surprised if it would not be slower than the current route.
  by jb9152
 
BSUmusicman wrote:Would this "Blocksome Plan" run kind of parallel to US35, cross U.S. 12 either under the end of the bridge or at a grade crossing and merge into the north Amtrak route? I don't see a huge deal with running a ROW near the channel. Although not the most eye appealing, it is probably the most feasible without buying and tearing down 100 homes as well as the use of the Amtrak station, which would eliminate more cost (except high-level platforms). We can all speculate and put our opinions in, but if any of us are right..well we will find out sooner or later.
There has not really been a very detailed alignment drawn, from what I've seen. However, it would still involve buying/taking properties and possibly demolishing homes and other structures.

This alignment would go directly against the city's plans to re-develop that area as a recreational use; they've said, and the Blue Chip Casino has said that they do *not* want SouthShore Freight trains running in that corridor. But I think that since the alignment is physically do-able, that it should be one of the alternatives studied. We'll see.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 13