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Construction contract for South Shore double track project approved

By | November 24, 2021

New agreement comes after initial bids far exceeded estimates

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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. Michigan City’s city council has approved use of eminent domain to acquire land needed as part of the project to double-track the South Shore through Michigan City and do away with the street running. (Trains: David Lassen)

CHESTERTON, Ind. — After its first effort to find a contractor was halted because bids far exceeded expectations, the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District board of directors has approved a contract for construction of the South Shore Double Track project, which will add a second main line between Gary and Michigan City, Ind.

The Times of Northwest Indiana reports that at a Monday meeting, the board approved a $304.8 contract a joint venture of the Walsh and Herzog construction companies. The 26.6-mile project will see the end of street running in Michigan City, and is expected to decrease travel times and increase capacity on the commuter line from Chicago. The project is expected to be completed in 2024.

The initial estimate for the entire double-track project was $491 million, but earlier this year, the initial bids for the construction contract came in at $399.7 million and $425.5 million. That led the district to make moves to lower the cost of the project under bid — through moves including separating out some elements into separate deals, buying some raw materials needed for the construction, and making some aspects optional, depending on the amount of federal funding available [see “Board approves material purchases …,” Trains News Wire, July 28, 2021].

South Shore President Michael Noland said the contracts approved by the board “truly are historic … the Double Track 1 main contract, allowing Walsh to begin construction, is the culmination of many, many, many years of effort.”

Along with the main contract, the board approved one for positive train control upgrades, for bus service when construction requires the tracks to be shut down, and for work at three stations, including $16.7 million for the new Michigan City 11th Street Station.

7 thoughts on “Construction contract for South Shore double track project approved

    1. Looking up other coverage on this subject reveals several mistakes in the Newswire article. The original estimate for the project was $228.6 million. The earlier low bid was $399.7 M. The project estimate was reworked in light of the much higher bids. The new low bid is $304.8 M.

  1. I wonder if this additional capacity between South Bend and Michigan City, Indiana could eventually lead to diversion of the Lake Shore Limited and Capitol Ltd to the CSS&SB. The old right of way of the latter is next to the NS at the Amtrak stop in South Bend and on the South end of Lake Michigan, the two are within eyesight of each other and cross one another at least once. I realize this route is longer but it could be more fluid and dependable, especially at the time these trains come through. I also realize new switches would likely be necessary, with each being quite expensive. Anyone have thoughts on this?

    1. Good thoughts depending on clearance under wires. Could be a stimulus for the decades – old proposal for a direct connection at Grand Crossing to send ICRR route trains onto ex – PRR direct to CUS.

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