FAQs

The South Shore Line (SSL) proposes to construct a 25-mile second track for the South Shore Line between Gary and Michigan City. The SSL currently operates mostly on a single track that is shared with freight rail. Trains on the single track experience delays in multiple areas where they must stop at a station or on a siding and wait for other trains to pass. These delays also occur when crews perform routine track maintenance or if a train develops a mechanical issue en route. The continuous second track would allow trains and passengers to continue to their destination without stops and delays for passing trains, maintenance work or other track issues.

SSL rush hour trains are currently crowded. The SSL needs to be able to run more trains to accommodate all of its passengers. This problem will become even worse as ridership grows.

Travel time between Michigan City and Chicago on the SSL is longer than by car, making it a less desirable choice for travel. Double tracking will allow for quicker travel times.

Currently, the SSL from Gary to South Bend is mostly single track, except for one 6.5-mile section of double track and several passing sidings.The SSL and South Shore Freight Service share use of the same track. Without a continuous double track, SSL trains must wait for other passenger trains to pass before proceeding. Similarly, SSL trains heading in opposite directions must rely on the scheduled meet times and wait to proceed. If a delay occurs on the line, all of the trains behind it are affected.

There are several un-signalized, un-protected roadway crossings in Michigan City. The trains currently use embedded, street-running track in this area. Train speed in this section is limited to 15-25 mph, and safety is an issue for commuters, the freight service, pedestrians, cyclists, and automobiles.

Benefits of the project include:

  • Quicker travel times
  • Increased service frequency
  • Improved reliability
  • Less need for temporary busing to get around planned maintenance
  • Enhanced safety
  • Opportunity for private investment and economic development  resulting from faster and more frequent train service.

At Miller Station in Gary, the South Shore Line (SSL) would realign the existing track and construct a second track, two new high-level platforms, and two storage tracks. The storage tracks will enable our exclusive Gary to Chicago service to depart from Miller. A key element of the double tracking project, is INDOT's relocation of US 12 to merge with US 20 east of Lake St. The City of Gary is planning an improved station building, transit-oriented development (TOD) around the station, and expanded parking, some of which will serve the SSL station.

At the Portage/Ogden Dunes Station, the SSL would construct two new high-level platforms and related track improvements.

At the Dune Park Station, the SSL would construct a second boarding platform and related track improvements.

The Beverly Shores Station would be improved with a second platform and a second track and the introduction of a portable lift for ADA access.

At 11th Street  in Michigan City, the SSL would construct two new high-level 8-car platforms in addition to the track improvements. The SSL is collaborating extensively with Michigan City regarding a proposed station building and surrounding improvement. Michigan City is planning for TOD and expanded parking, some of which will serve the SSL station. 

It is not anticipated that there will be any station closures as part of this project; however, it is possible that future scheduling may involve express trains that may bypass some stations with low ridership at particular times during the day.

Preliminary plans show the second track generally running parallel to the existing track. The exact alignment will be refined during final design. Alternatives have been developed during the environmental review process and a preferred alternative has been selected and refined for preliminary design.

The FTA’s process for Core Capacity Projects is a structured process with three phases: 

  1. Project Development. The FTA approved The SSL’s request to enter into the project development process in May 2016. The project team has started an environmental review process that includes conducting environmental studies, developing and reviewing alternatives, and identifying a locally preferred alternative. At the end of the project development phase, The SSL will request approval from the FTA to enter into the Engineering phase.
  2. Engineering. Project design will be completed with enough detail to allow the FTA to evaluate, rate, and approve the designs. If the FTA approves the project as designed, it will commit the funding and the SSL will request a Full Funding Grant Agreement. 
  3. Construction. Following a signed Full Funding Grant Agreement, the SSL will advertise the project for bid for construction. The FTA will continue to provide oversight throughout the construction process. 

 

Timeline

The project is expected to be completed and in operation by the end of 2020.

Getting Involved

The South Shore Line (SSL) hosted three public workshops and an online public meeting for the purpose of informing the public and collecting comments. In addition, two open house public hearings are scheduled for October 11 and October 12 to receive comments on the Environmental Assessment is released for public comments. Also, anyone can visit the Contact Us page on this website at any time to comment, submit questions, or join the mailing list.

The project team gathers comments during a formal comment period for each round of public meetings held at specific project milestones, which were project scoping (October 2016) and the open house public hearing on the Environmental Assessment and Section 4(f) Evaluation (September - October 2017). Comments received before or during the formal comment periods will inform decision-making related to the milestones.

Comments submitted before and after formal comment periods are reviewed by the South Shore Line (SSL) and the project team and will help provide an understanding of public and stakeholder sentiment regarding the project.

The South Shore Line (SSL) relies heavily on email and the project website to communicate with those who have shown interest in the project. The best way to stay informed about upcoming public meetings and project updates is to provide us your email address using the comment form. You may also provide a mailing address for meeting notifications. Up-to-date information will be posted on this website. 

The South Shore Line (SSL) staff is available to meet with your organization or community group to discuss this project. Send us an email at: DoubleTrackNWI@nictd.com

We want to hear from you!

  1. Complete a comment form
  2. Email us at: DoubleTrackNWI@nictd.com
  3. Attend a public meeting and submit a comment
  4. Mail in your comments:

South Shore Line
Attn: Double Track NWI
33 East U.S. Highway 12
Chesterton, IN 46304

 

Funding

Current estimates for the Project are approximately $290 million. Capital costs will be updated as the project develops.

The South Shore Line (SSL) is preparing an application for funding of 50% of the capital costs through the Federal Transit Administration’s Core Capacity program. The remaining 50% of the costs would be from state and/or local sources.

For more information on the FTA’s Core Capacity program and process, visit: https://www.transit.dot.gov/funding/grant-programs/capital-investments/about-program.

As part of the FTA Grant Process, the South Shire Line (SSL) will prepare a financial plan that will evaluate different funding strategies and identify if changes to fares and/or fare structures are needed.

Property Acquisition

Following scoping, the project study identified and evaluated alternative alignment concepts. As part of this process, the need to acquire additional property has been determined. Wherever possible, the project has been designed to stay within the existing railroad or roadway right-of-way; however, some property acquisitions are anticipated especially in Michigan City and Miller section of Gary. Any property acquisition will follow the Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act of 1970, as amended, which is a law passed by Congress to promote uniformity and fairness when a local transit agency must acquire property.

Property acquisitions would not take place until the final design process. It is currently anticipated that final design would begin in 2018.

Each property to be acquired would be appraised by two independent appraisers. Based on the results of the appraisal, an offer of purchase would be provided reflecting the fair market value of the property.

For more information on Acquisition and Relocation, visit: https://www.transit.dot.gov/sites/fta.dot.gov/files/docs/FTA_Trifold.pdf

Environment

Environmental considerations are an important part of the development and evaluation of the alternatives. Environmental data were collected and analyzed with regard to wetlands, water quality, endangered species, parklands, historic resources, and hazardous material sites. Field surveys were conducted to determine the locations of these resources, and the information will be used to inform the design process. Efforts were and will continue to be made during design to minimize environmental impacts.

The South Shore Line (SSL) has been and will continue to coordinate with appropriate federal, state and local agencies to review and mitigate any potential impacts to existing resources such as the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, wetlands, and any historic sites and districts.