The South Shore is awaiting a decision by the U.S. Secret Service whether it
will order the passenger line to suspend service May 20 and 21 while more
than 50 world leaders are attending a NATO summit in Chicago.
Tracks for the South Shore, Metra and Canadian National railroads all run
under McCormick Place, where the closed summit will take place.
According to the official Chicago NATO website, it’s the first time the
North Atlantic Treaty Organization will meet in an American city other than
South Shore general manager Gerald Hanas said the railroad’s been told it
will not be able to stop at McCormick Place, but the most extreme security
measure would be cessation of service for all three railroads both days and
possibly May 19 as well.
Following Friday’s meeting of the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation
District, Hanas said, “We’ve never dealt with one of these (national
security events) before.” He’s asked the Secret Service for at least 30 days
notice of its decision but has no idea when it might come; passengers will
be alerted to any changes as soon as possible.
If service is halted, Hanas said it won’t be possible to transfer passengers
from trains and bus them around McCormick Place. On an average weekday the
South Shore carries about 12,000 riders, most headed to and from downtown
Chicago. The Crosstown Classic baseball games between the the Chicago Cubs
and White Sox take place May 18-20 generating about 1,000 additional riders
Hanas said NICTD has to explore whether the railroad can be compensated by
the federal government for lost revenue should a South Shore shutdown be
At the next meeting traffic engineers from DLZ will give NICTD board members
cost estimates and options regarding possible changes to traffic flow at the
Dune Park train station north of U.S. 12 east of Indiana 49.
Earlier this year Chesterton resident Bernie Holicky said the Dune Park
traffic pattern is confusing and asked for better signage.
The original design for the station is a one-way loop with the far east
entrance off U.S. 12 an enter-only, but motorists often exit on the narrow
drive. Likewise, some motorists travel against traffic from the west parking
lot to the east lot on what is supposed to be a one-way connector aisle
creating a problem of sight distances for oncoming traffic.
Hanas laid out a number of possibilities including widening the east
entrance road to a full entrance/exit and widening the connector aisle to
accomodate two-way traffic.
In other business, on the recommendation of NICTD purchasing manager Randy
Welch the board approved a $2,081,000 contract with Era Valdivia Contractors
of Chicago to sandblast and paint the railroad bridge over the Grand Calumet
River west of Gary. The work must be done by hand and will be completed in
Welch said salt from the Indiana Toll Road washes off onto the bridge eating
away the paint.
Of the more than 1,700 feet to be painted, 1,473 feet are over water. Crews
will have to be suspended from the bridge to work, said Welch, because
permission to use barges wasn’t given.
Ridership sees a
NICTD marketing director John Parsons said ridership in three key categories
is up for a total 5.7 percent increase this year, in part helped by
February’s extra Leap Year day.
A reviving economy, unseasonably warm weather and the surging price of
gasoline factored into the ridership boost as well, said Parsons, and 4,200
more riders than 2010 took the train March 17 on St. Patrick’s Day.
“Next week it’s Katie bar the door,” said Parsons, citing a large number of
area schools on spring break and the Cubs opening-day home series. He
reminded passengers that Good Friday trains will operate on a weekday