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 justalurker66
Next step the city council ... but the study results were released last Thursday and the 11th St alignment "won".

The current plan is to build a double track along the north side of 11th St. Leave one lane open for traffic eastbound on 11th St (one way street). A low curb would separate the cars from the tracks (good luck keeping vehicles away from the catenary supports). NICTD would build a 800ft high platform station near Franklin St. They would leave more crossings open (with gates).

10th St would remain a two way street with the tracks running along the south side. Part of the proposal includes extending 10th St to US 12.

Some diagrams are available on the city website but the entire presentation with maps is not yet available.

http://www.emichigancity.com/cityhall/d ... /index.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
  by Tadman
Barf... It gets the tracks out of the street, but if there's still a lot of grade crossings, you've still got the problem of slow running. This is going to drag on and on...
  by dinwitty
I was just checking to see whats what...ahh, yep, I like it, and the station restaurant idea.

The biggest complaint was salt on the tracks from de-icing streets causing signals to go red.
South Shore didnt really want a longer route. I'm fine with the one-waying of 11th street.

This perhaps prevent the massive housing destruction. What I am all for is Michigan City downtown development. So much business is thrown south, it needs some new input.

I have an idea for the depot I am going to throw an email to somewhere...
  by justalurker66
Michigan City is still obstructing the railroad ...
On July 17th the council voted 5-4 against the central alignment. The mayor says he'll push ahead.

They would probably vote 5-4 against a northern alignment or southern alignment as well. It is almost as if the city of Michigan City wants NICTD and the South Shore to leave Michigan City. And then NICTD hinted at moving Shops and the jobs out of town and the city wants a promise that NICTD will never do that.

So the city is effectively telling NICTD to get out of town and then they are complaining that NICTD might just do that? Sounds logical.

There was another meeting last night to redraw the proposal ... I expect the same results. No consensus - no plan - no future for Michigan City.
  by railroaddumdum49
I watched the meeting on my pc last nite, and the somber demeaner of the council tells me those shops are headed west, and that big plans are in store for NICTD as well as M.C. However, the citizens of M.C. may not not have much say in the matter.
  by justalurker66
Today's news update from the meeting last night:
http://thenewsdispatch.com/articles/201 ... 991106.txt" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

NICTD does not have the money to relocate Shops and then clean up the land they and their predecessors have been using for over 100 years. But if the problem grows to the point where the single track connection through Michigan City becomes unreliable and even more service affecting than it is today, NICTD *MUST* address those problems. A Shops west of Michigan City could provide the answer NICTD needs.

There isn't a really good location for Shops west of Michigan City. Along the national lake shore there could be difficulty getting enough land and putting Shops west of Dune Park would mean running trains east to start the westbound rush hour. Wherever it placed, it would redefine all of the stations east of the new Shops location.

If the main line is moved to the CSX corridor NICTD could build a car storage yard east of Michigan City and have some cars stored at the repair shops and others at the car yard. They could relocate Shops east of Michigan City or keep the repair shop at Carroll Ave and put the car storage to the east (running cars over to Carroll as they need regular maintenance). That would "save" Shops. But if NICTD goes to the expense of creating a new car yard it might be cost effective to move all operations to the new location.

The freight shops are a second matter. Would they stay put or find another location? The connection to Kingsbury makes staying at Carroll Ave a good idea.

Moving Shops would be expensive and complicated ... but it may become needed if the reliability of the line through or around Michigan City is not maintained. The best answer would be to improve the reliability of the connection through Michigan City and use the money for that connection and additional upgrades instead of replacing Shops.
  by justalurker66
I forgot there was a NICTD board meeting yesterday --- Media coverage:
http://www.nwitimes.com/business/transp ... 70788.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

"NICTD Trustees on Friday also unanimously voted for a resolution endorsing a joint NICTD/Michigan City committee's endorsement of a double-track alignment along the 10th and 11th street corridor."

"NICTD trustees on Friday also approved beginning a search for a site to build a new car storage building. It will not replace the NICTD shops off N. Roeske Avenue in Michigan City, but will be used to handle overflow that may develop there, Hanas said."

Apparently the Michigan City fear over Shops leaving was spawned by NICTD's desire for a new site ... although the board clearly states that this will NOT replace the current Shops. (However, I still believe that if the connection through Michigan City becomes unreliable a "west Shops" would need to be considered.)
  by railroaddumdum49
I've read about a desire to expand commuter service to Valpo. If this scenario were to occur, a Gary location for a facility would make sense to me.
  by justalurker66
The recent passenger survey shows the top five stations for boarding as: East Chicago (22.9%), Hammond (13.1%), Hegewisch (11.4%), Dune Park (9.9%) and South Bend (8.2%). I was surprised to see South Bend make the top 5. (The survey counted passengers arriving or departing Millenium Station before 1pm weekdays or before 11:15am Saturday - the full results have not yet been published.)

Keeping the car shops east of Dune Park would mean trains would not have to run east to go west with that passenger load. If Valpo is ever added it will be using different equipment than the main line and will likely get a car storage shop near Valparaiso. (That would avoid needing to run trains "east" to Valpo in the morning to make the inbound run.)

There has been a clarification from John Parsons as published in the Michigan City News Dispatch:
"NICTD wants the storage facility linked up to a double-track rail. NICTD Marketing Director John Parsons said that the plan is to purchase the land west of Michigan City if the city does not install a double-track rail and possibly east of the city if the city does install the double-track rail.

Parsons said that the maintenance facility will remain open into the foreseeable future regardless of whether or not Michigan City installs a double-track rail.
  by dinwitty
If they keep the single track they have to isolate it from the street surface.
Not getting double track downtown means the MC stop would go west instead of Carroll.
Or the car adds/drops.

The other idea....a split double track, one goes downtown, the other runs up the NKP, that keeps one track downtown, have a SB Chicago express uses the NKP shot.

again the other idea is Elevated double track. Works in Chicago.

I still like my idea of moving the track south between the streets. Not tear down a bunch of buildings.

Or else you invent a new de-icer for the streets. I hear the Washington DC conduit streetcars Salting was forbidden on the tracks. Maybe South Shore needs to recreate a snow sweeper for MC.
  by justalurker66
FYI: The City of Michigan City updated their project website (apparently yesterday) and the 52 slide presentation from June 13th is now online.

Website: http://www.emichigancity.com/cityhall/d ... /index.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Presentation (PDF 12 MB): http://www.emichigancity.com/cityhall/d ... -Study.pdf" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

There are plenty of pictures, words and especially diagrams showing what they are planning on doing. In a nutshell:
Remove the north lane (westbound) from 11th St, put down a new railroad in the old westbound, move trains on to the new rails (along 11th St).
Remove the current track and replace with new rails. Extend that new track west along 10th St (double track with two tracks crossing Amtrak) tying in west of Sheridan Ave. Extend that new track east along the current alignment and Holiday St to the yard.

Changing the curves at 10th/11th, Cedar St and east of Michigan Ave will take some logistical work to keep the trains running while new rails are built south of the current alignment. But it can be done. Give NICTD $100 million and federal approval and it could be done by 2015.
  by justalurker66
Council supports corridor alternative

MICHIGAN CITY — In an 8-0 vote Tuesday, members of the Michigan City Common Council voted to support the Management Oversight Group central corridor alignment alternative for the South Shore. At-Large Councilman Tim Bietry was absent.

This resolution, which has been in the works for several years, supports the MOG assessment “that the central corridor (alternative) is the preferred NICTD realignment in Michigan City” further stating that it “has the least amount of negative impact to the city and its citizens and the maximum amount of positive impact for the city.”

The accepted design includes plans to transform 11th Street into a one-way, single-lane eastbound street. The South Shore Line will remain on the north side of the street, but would be rebuilt as a two-track section.
. . .
Prior to the vote, City Council President Duane Parry amended the resolution by substitution. The amendment put forth a statement as part of the resolution stating that “throughout all further investigations, planning and all stages of design of the realignment project, the feasibility and advisability of at least preliminarily constructing a single track through all or most of Michigan City and an elevated boarding platform substantially less than 800 feet be considered.”

http://thenewsdispatch.com/articles/201 ... 187368.txt" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Moving forward ...
  by Tadman
justalurker66 wrote: Moving forward ...
ha, barely. This is such a soap opera. It's nuts, because MC has such good transportation options for a city their size and would NEVER be a candidate for a new-build commuter line. They take it for granted...
  by railroaddumdum49
It seems some important people in the transportation world like NICTD's corridor for HSR. I wonder what impact a decision to use NICTD's corridor would have on the decision process for NICTD's track location in Michigan City.
1BFine_Appendix6 (1).pdf
  by justalurker66
railroaddumdum49 wrote:It seems some important people in the transportation world like NICTD's corridor for HSR. I wonder what impact a decision to use NICTD's corridor would have on the decision process for NICTD's track location in Michigan City.
1BFine_Appendix6 (1).pdf
EDIT: HSR will not be using the NICTD corridor to enter the city ... so their plans do not conflict with NICTD's.

Original Reply:
Interesting concepts for "South of the Lake" ... Route 1 jumps NS to NICTD at Burns Harbor, Route 2 is the existing route (NS to Amtrak/MC), Route 3 jumps to CSX then to NICTD at Miller, Route 4 does the Route 3 CSX to NICTD connection then gets off of NICTD at Burns Harbor, Routes 5 and 6 don't touch NICTD but would reconnect the Amtrak line with the former MC route southeast of Porter Jct. Route 7 is the full NICTD route - CN-IC in Chicago then along NICTD from Kensington to Michigan City. Route 8 uses the same CN-IC + NICTD route to Burns Harbor then gets back on NS east of Burns Harbor. Route 9 and 10 basically restore the MC.

Routes 1, 3 and 7 are the ones where HSR would enter Michigan City on NICTD instead of Amtrak's current line. The maps for the project do not show Michigan City itself ... but the new HSR certainly would not follow 10th and 11th St. The connection would run along the NIPSCO yard to the current station ... which is a portion of the "northern" route options studied for the possible NICTD relocation.

If HSR chose a NICTD approach to Michigan City it would help support a northern alignment for NICTD but some of the biggest opposition for NICTD has been in the neighborhood along the former Nickle Plate line down to Shops and Trail Creek would need to be dealt with (either a high bridge that would create a wall across northern Michigan City due to the approaches and need for a level section on the approach for the station or the closure of Trail Creek). A moveable bridge for Amtrak's few trains a day (even if the Grand Rapids train is moved over to the Amtrak line) is easier to do than for NICTD's daily parade of trains.

The combined HSR/NICTD line would help solve the problem of coordinating the crossing with Amtrak (where Amtrak dispatchers often hold NICTD trains long before the Amtrak will pass and need to tear down the route for a NICTD train to pass). It will add other coordination problems (will it be NICTD dispatching on the section that Amtrak uses?).

While HSR on NICTD's line would be a nice way of getting double track from Miller / Burns Harbor to Michigan City (I doubt if the Kensington options would be chosen) the segment of NS between Burns Harbor and Porter to get on the existing Amtrak line isn't the bottleneck.

Upon further review of the project website for "South of the Lake" alignments, options 1, 3, 7 and 8 have been selected to fail.
"The implementation of a dedicated double track passenger service along this route would increase conflicts with existing freight service and restrict speeds to less than 110 mph. Further, this route has a high potential for impacts to the natural environment as it would require acquisition of right of way through a large portion of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. These factors are inconsistent with the Program’s Purpose and Need."
http://greatlakesrail.org/~grtlakes/ind ... -resources" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
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