Commuter Transportation District officials took under advisement Friday a
proposal to close both the downtown Gary Metro Center and Miller stations
serving the South Shore commuter line, and to build a new $37.6 million
NICTD station midway between them.
Murphy, vice-president of American Structurepoint Inc. of Indianapolis, said
it could total $51.8 million to upgrade both the Gary Metro and Miller
stations to current standards due to significant impediments at each site.
To accomodate a
750 foot-long, high-boarding platform at Miller alone, the neighborhood Gary
station would have to be relocated to the west through acquisition of
commercial properties in the area, and U.S. 12 would have to be realigned.
The new regional
Gateway Station is proposed for a 6.53-acre triangular parcel northeast of
the U.S. Highway 12/20 access ramp to the Indiana Toll Road (Interstate 90).
station-consolidation plan is a much scaled-back version of the
$120-million, 2008 concept pitched to NICTD by private developers that would
have combined a new South Shore station with Gary redevelopment. That
project was planned near Interstate 65 west of the Toll Road.
and community leaders at that time lobbied not to close their station, and
NICTD directors rejected the developers' request.
ADA-compliant Gateway Station would have a canopied high-level boarding
platform. Initially about 1,100 parking spaces would be built for the 2,500
square-foot station and vendor area, said Murphy, but as ridership increases
a parking garage likely would be needed as well to provide 1,880 total
spaces at the site. No parking fee is anticipated.
Murphy said over
20 years having one regional station will reduce travel time by 4.5 minutes
for South Shore passengers boarding/departing east of it, and attract 730
additional riders per day netting NICTD an estimated $18 million in new
manager Gerald Hanas said the projected ridership increase would not require
the purchase of additional train cars at today's passenger levels.
As now proposed,
the Miller station would move about two miles to the west. It draws
passengers from Portage, Hobart and Lake Station as well.
meeting NICTD director of marketing and planning John Parsons said he
doesn't know whether the Gateway Station will be seen as an acceptable
compromise by Miller riders. He also said he doesn’t believe closing the
Gary Metro station, where $600,000 in NICTD improvements recently were
completed, will hurt Gary's downtown because bus service would link it with
the Gateway Station.
timetable to make a decision on station consolidation, said Parsons. “We
will get direction from the board. They never had this data before but they
announced the catenary renewal project, began in 2006, has been completed
between 115th Street in Chicago and Michigan City with marked improvement
seen in traction-power reliability. The project cost $52.6 million, most
federal funds. Replacing the 1940s-era overhead catenary from Michigan City
to South Bend will cost about $23.5 million.
•URS Corp. of
Chicago was hired for $245,254 to help NICTD develop strategies to comply
with an unfunded federal mandate to implement positive train control by
December, 2015. PTC will use GPS technology to track the position of trains
and in theory eliminate the potential for human error.
the negotiated lone bid of Teleweld Inc. of Streator, IL at $122,475 ---
less than half the engineer's estimate --- to upgrade South Shore signage
and monitors at Millennium Station at Randolph Street.
bid of current contract holder Performance Plus of Gary also came in lower
than estimated for custodial services for a new five-year term.
NICTD manager of safety, commended the heroic response of two railroad
employees, who will receive gift certificates. John Higgenbotham performed
CPR on a man found not breathing on a Millennium Station platform; the man
survived. Pat Fulford helped attend to and quickly get medical treatment for
another worker whose knife had slipped causing an arterial bleed.
Illinois has proposed to boost monthly 2012 ticket prices including parking
fees from $134.10 to $165.50 at its Hegewisch station that is served
exclusively by NICTD. Parsons said staff likely will propose a fare increase
at NICTD's nearby Hammond and East Chicago stations, where a monthly pass
now is $147.85 and Hegewisch passengers are anticipated to flock.
member Porter County Councilman Jim Biggs said he'll look into Town of Pines
resident Anne Prokuski's renewed request to have several trees on NICTD
property cut down near her home. Hanas said an arborist determined high-risk
trees should be removed but not all, although some may be limbed.
South Shore ridership through August is down 2.7 percent to 2,462,057
approaching a 600,000-passenger loss over the record 2007 total. Encouraging
though, he noted, are more than 2-percent jumps in average peak and
weekend/holiday travel, and a 1.3 percent hike in revenue following a fare
increase in June.