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 million 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.