South Shore officials approved a not-to-exceed $415,000 contract Friday with
URS Corp. of Chicago to design a high-boarding platform at Dune Park Station
that will cut dwell time and improve passenger access. Actual platform
construction is expected to take place in 2013 and cost about $3 million.
Railroad officials are considering building a pedestrian walkway through the
woods from the east parking lot to the new boarding platform so passengers
don’t have to walk along an access road.
In addition, staff are considering proposed changes to Dune Park’s
designated one-way east entrance making it an exit onto U.S. 12 also.
Chris Beck of the railroad’s Engineering Department told directors of the
Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District that Dune Park is the
South Shore’s busiest station without a high-level boarding platform. Per
weekday more than 500 passengers board there and about 700 during the
The new, canopied platform would extend from the station at the same
elevation north to the train tracks; all train doors would open; long lines
waiting to climb steps would be eliminated; and those with strollers,
luggage or in wheelchairs will have easier access. Instead of taking three
or four minutes for a typical train to board (seven minutes if using a
wheelchair lift), passengers should be on their way in about 45 seconds.
Dune Park, built in 1985, is based on historic South Shore station
architecture. URS Corp. plans to consult the original Dune Park architect on
the boarding platform design.
Regarding two bridge projects, the NICTD board approved maximum contracts of
$385,000 with DLZ of South Bend to design a new Trail Creek bridge, and
$540,000 with R.W. Armstrong of South Bend to design a wider Lake Park
Bridge with improved clearances on the south side of Hudson Lake.
NICTD general manager Gerald Hanas said the South Shore lost more than
$100,000 due to the May 20-21 NATO summit in Chicago. The railroad is
attempting to seek reimbursement.
NICTD had 52 percent fewer passengers riding Friday through Monday of the
summit resulting in a $23,000 loss on one-way ticket sales; NICTD also had
to hire 103 part-time police officers from 25 area police agencies at a cost
Certain South Shore stops and Metra stations in Illinois were closed by
order of federal agencies for the protection of world leaders attending the
summit. NICTD canceled 11 trains on Monday and what trains that did run had
to have extra security on board and at stations.
Hanas thanked both NICTD transit police chief Bob Byrd for his leadership
that resulted in no trains being rejected, and South Shore passengers for
their cooperation. During public comment South Shore rider Bernie Holicky of
Chesterton told the board, “I give them an A+” for the way NICTD handled the
NICTD directors approved a new five-year agreement with Metra allowing South
Shore passenger trains the right to use 14 miles of Metra’s trackage and
facilities in Illinois including downtown Millennium Station.
NICTD’s payment to Metra for 2012 is $6.2 million and increases annually to
$7 million by 2016.
Directors also approved a new pact with Metra to reimburse the South Shore
for carrying passengers boarding at the Hegewisch Station in Illinois; the
cost to Metra is $3.7 million per year through 2016, about $500,000 less
In other business, Hanas presented details of an ongoing study to relocate
the South Shore’s tracks off city streets and onto a new route through
Michigan City. Two options remain viable and railroad management is working
with city officials to coordinate economic development and construction of a
modern NICTD station there as part of the relocation.
Tracey McElree of AC Incorporated of Valparaiso updated board members on the
South Shore’s web-based marketing campaign informing passengers how to ride,
what to expect, train schedules and how to get to destination attractions.
McElree said 39,884 people have visited the site, and 3,343 riders
communicate monthly using Twitter and Facebook.
NICTD director of marketing and planning John Parsons reported total
passengers through May topped 1.5 million this year, a 2.7 percent increase
despite the four-day NATO summit interruptions. Strongest ridership increase
was in off-peak travel, up 4.9 percent.