State Sen. Eddie Melton and Gov. Eric Holcomb at Double Track groundbreaking in Michigan City

Indiana's big bet on the South Shore Line

Contributed By:The 411 News

Double Track and West Lake rail projects take off

What does 18 miles of double tracking on the South Shore Line between Gary and Michigan City mean?

Gov. Eric Holcomb labeled it a game changer when he joined public and private sector leaders Monday, June 20 in Michigan City for an official groundbreaking for the South Shore Line Double Track project. Together, $650 million in local, state and federal funds will shorten the commute time between downtown Chicago and Michigan City, along with infrastructure improvements to make trips safer.

State Senator Eddie Melton, from Gary, attended the Michigan City ceremony Monday and the next day joined U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg at the 56th annual Rainbow PUSH Coalition Convention in Chicago.

Secretary Buttigieg discussed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the ongoing efforts to revitalize the nation’s infrastructure.

Sen. Melton said, “I was grateful for the opportunity to personally thank the Secretary of Transportation as well as the Biden Administration for the federal funding granted to my district, including funding from the American Rescue Plan for the historic Double Tracking project.”

Melton added, “It’s an honor to be a part of the NWI delegation that helped fund this historic economic development project for my district. The South Shore Double Tracking project will help grow the economy and population in Gary, downtown and in Miller, and throughout northwest Indiana.”

The Double Track Northwest Indiana project spans 26.6 miles and will see the construction of a new second track between Michigan City and Gary that will expand service. In addition to the second track, the project includes construction of four bridges, five stations, expanding parking lots at the stations and nine new platforms.

The Miller Station in Gary will be rebuilt.

The project will also deliver safety improvements with the closure of 21 grade crossings and the construction of two new ballasted tracks that will replace single street-running tracks in Michigan City.

Travel time between Michigan City and Chicago is expected to be reduced from today’s 1 hour and 40 minute trip to a 67 minute express trip.

Once the project is complete, service is planned to operate every 16 minutes during weekday peak periods and approximately every 75 minutes during weekday off-peak periods and evenings.

Safety will be greatly improved in Michigan City, because the train will no longer travel in the same roadway as drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists. The station at 11th Street would be improved so passengers could board from high-level platforms rather than the street level, and some of the at-grade crossings between Sheridan Road and Michigan Boulevard would be closed.

Travel time between northwest Indiana and Millennium Station in Chicago are expected to be substantially reduced with the Double Track Project.

Travel time between Gary/Miller is now 1 hour and 9 minutes. After double tracking, peak travel time will be 50 minutes; travel time for an express trip will be 43 minutes.

The same day as the groundbreaking, the Dept. of Transportation announced it had finalized a $203.3 million Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement (RRIF) loan that will help deliver the South Shore Line's eight-mile West Lake Corridor Commuter Rail Project between Hammond and Dyer.

The single-track extension of the South Shore Line includes four new stations between Dyer and Hammond, that will improve travel times and reliability of trains to the Chicago area, as well as expand multi-modal options with new sidewalks, walking trails and bike paths in and around station areas.

The West Lake project also includes one maintenance and storage facility, three traction power substations, refurbishing 32 commuter rail cars and construction of more than 2,300 park and ride spaces.

Rev. Jesse Jackson, l-r, State Sen. Eddie Melton, and U.S. Secretary of Transportation Peter Buttigieg

Story Posted:06/23/2022

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