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.
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.
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.
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.