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South Bend officials approve request for possible downtown South Shore station

NOW: South Bend officials approve request for possible downtown South Shore station

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- From downtown South Bend to Chicago in less than two hours. A South Shore Line train station in downtown South Bend is one step closer to making that a reality.

On Thursday morning, the Redevelopment Commission approved a request from the city to start the preliminary engineering work for a station downtown.

However, it’s not finalized just yet. Some work still needs to be done before the old Union Station location can be a sure thing.

Back in April, there were a couple of other proposed sites for the relocation of the South Shore Line train station.

The South Bend Chocolate Factory on US-20, the existing Amtrak station, a new station at the airport, a station at the Honeywell site and Union Station downtown were all considered, including their costs and feasibility.

Now, after all that has been looked at, the old Union Station is being called the preferred site, despite an estimated price tag of $100 million.

“Today we presented to the redevelopment commission a budget request to start the next job to start the next preliminary engineering for the South Shore station downtown,” said Jitin Kain, Deputy Director of South Bend Public Works.

Of the various site relocation options for the South Shore Line considered, Union Station stood out the most but there are still some questions that need answers.

“What we don’t know is the best location in terms of above ground or at grade for the downtown option,” Kain said. “We don’t know what some of the property impacts might be, we don’t know along the route is what some of the stability of the existing bridge structures might be.”

The money approved Thursday will go towards figuring all of that out.

“When we look at those, we will get a better idea of cost and at the same time we will have a parallel analysis of what the airport is trying to determine and then I think will have the mayor will be in a position to better finalize where the South Shore Line goes,” Kain said.

If all works out in favor of the Union Station location, it could bring a huge economic boost downtown.

But one council member says the city should expect push back on this one.

“We need to have economic return on all sides of the city,” South Bend Council member Oliver Davis said. “We need to have economic return on the east side, west side, north side, south side. To just have economic downtown is ridiculous. We are not downtown South Bend. We are South Bend, Indiana.”

Kain also said there may be a possibility for both an airport and downtown station option and this study will help them determine what the final options for the South Shore Line station will be.

The timeline for this next stage is about six months and if that progresses as planned, the next step will be designing the station building.

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