South Shore projects meeting deadlines
Two multi-million-dollar construction projects that represent an approximately $1.5 billion investment to the South Shore Line are on schedule, according to officials from the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District. Our partners at The Times of Northwest Indiana report officials from the commuter rail line on Monday provided an update to the NICTD Board of Directors.
South Shore Line President Michael Noland told the board that the double-tracking of the line from Michigan City to Gary is on track for full revenue service to begin in about 16 months.
Noland says the railroad aims to restart train service between Michigan City and Dune Park this summer and shift the focus of work o the $649 million Double Track project to the Dune Park to Gary Metro Center stretch.
“There’s activity now underway to set the stage to complete that work next November, and then we go into commissioning and testing of the line with the goal and expectation that we open up for revenue service in May of 2024,” Noland said.
NICTD’s other project, the $949 million West Lake Corridor extension, continues on schedule for a May 2025 opening. Noland says current work is focused in Hammond, the northern end of an eight-mile line that will terminate at the Munster-Dyer town line. He says an estimated 15% to 20% of the project is complete, with substantial completion scheduled for fall 2024 and full revenue service in May 2025.
The publication says the two projects are included in a six-year capital plan approved by the board Monday. The plan includes additional capital spending of about $30 million per year for various railroad and rail car maintenance work and upgrades.
Noland says that annual total is about 50% more than the sum in recent years because of the federal infrastructure bill enacted in 2021.
The board also heard a report on South Shore ridership, which is still down by more than half from pre-pandemic levels. Just over 1.4 million passengers rode the rails in 2022, as compared to almost 3.3 million in 2019.
NICTD says ridership has been slow to recover from the pandemic as a percentage of former commuters are now able to work remotely. The South Shore says ridership has also been impacted by the Double Track project which resulted in bus service between the train stations closed by the Double Track project.
Click here to access the full report from Andrew Steele and The Times of Northwest Indiana.