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Home / News & Reviews / News Wire / Board approves material purchases, hoping to lower cost of South Shore Double Track project

Board approves material purchases, hoping to lower cost of South Shore Double Track project

By | July 28, 2021

Commuter agency prepares to seek new bids after original contract offers far exceeded budget

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A silver passenger train operates in the middle of a street.
A silver passenger train operates in the middle of a street.
A South Shore commuter train makes its way down 10th Street in Michigan City, Ind. The Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District is preparing to once again put its Gary-Michigan City Double Track project out to bid. (Trains: David Lassen)

CHESTERTON, Ind. — The Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District has approved purchase of materials for its planned South Shore Double Track project between Gary and Michigan City, Ind., as part of its effort to lower the cost of building the commuter railroad’s second main line.

The Times of Northwest Indiana reports the board on Monday approved purchases of $6.2 million in rail, $380,000 for diamond crossings, and more than $700,000 for Alstom signal equipment. Those purchases will remove potential price volatility for any contractor selected for the project.

The agency is also deciding which features of the project can be considered “options,” included only if funding arounds, and how much federal COVID relief funding it will have to apply to the project.

“I’m feeling confident between the actions we’re taking and the new funding available, we’ll be able to give a notice to proceed,” NICTD President Michael Noland told the board meeting.

In May, the NICTD turned down the only two bids it received for construction of the second track when those bids came in at $399.7 million and $425.5 million — far beyond the budged $228.6 million (see “Digest: UP bridge in Oregon damaged …,” Trains News Wire, May 11, 2021). The purchases and other changes are coming as the agency prepares to again put the project out to bid in the next few weeks.

2 thoughts on “Board approves material purchases, hoping to lower cost of South Shore Double Track project

  1. At costs like these–do you and we really need this project? Michigan City has lived with tracks in the street for a century–they could do it for a century more no sweat and if they really want the tracks gone Michigan City could help pay for it. That’s how Syracuse finally got NYC passenger trains off the city streets only in 1935; they had to wait a few more years to get the DL&W out in another part of the city. Long story but Syracuse shared in the expense. Similar thing happened at Little Falls/Gulf Curve in 1947 and Oneida in 1965. Put in a new passing siding here and there and you increase capacity a little cheaper maybe.

    1. This project is so much more than just eliminating a section of street running. The entire South Shore line from Michigan City to South Bend is single-track, with passing sidings. Delays on this segment, due to equipment failure, track maintenance, or weather, cause cascading delays along the entire railroad, sometimes requiring bussing passengers (and hiring busses on short notice is terribly expensive). This has been a problem for decades, and is finally being addressed.

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