What is the Plan?

With a 2015 deadline approaching NICTD needs to move forward to get their tracks out of the city streets. After removal, trains will need to get from the yard on Carroll Ave to the main railroad on the west side of town.

The most popular path over the years has been a plan to go north along former Norfolk Southern tracks to the Amtrak line on the north side of Michigan City then along side the South Shore Freight yard to meet the existing main line near the county line. The big problem with this alignment is Trail Creek … which is crossed by Amtrak via a single track swing bridge. This bridge gives boats the right of way – which means a rush train could be delayed if the bridge needs to be opened for boat traffic. A high level bridge similar to the US12 bridge over trail creek could be built but the cost is prohibitive (an estimated $200-$300 million dollars).

A second option would be to take the line south along the CSX route that passes to the east of the Michigan City yard. While not as expensive as the north route, this option would still cost over $65 million and would cost NICTD extra operating expenses to get their trains eastward to the line then reversed to get on the CSX line.

The new option is literally a “middle ground”. The existing successful 11th St alignment will be moved “one lot south”. Properties along the south side of 11th St from East Michigan Ave (US 35)  to Chicago Ave would be purchased. NICTD would build a double track railroad along that path continuing west just north of the prison property rejoining the existing line at (or near) Sheridan Ave. (A few properties on 10th St would also need to be purchased.) The initial build would be a single track with a double track at the new 11th Street station downtown.

The new station would have high level platforms for fast boarding (also satisfying ADA requirements) and an expected 800 parking slots. This replaces the non-compliant “street boarding” station and 37 car lot. The Carroll Ave station (compliant with a manual chair lift) with 201 parking slots (plus overflow) would be closed.

A PDF of the plan is available on the City of Michigan City’s website – PDF