Update on South Shore Line plan
SOUTH BEND, Ind. - The South Shore Line is sharing new details about its plan to reduce travel time for riders by re-routing the railway around South Bend. They say the project is a “game changer.”
“Really for as long as I can remember, I think we’ve been asking ourselves, what can we do to have a faster connection to Chicago?” said South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
The South Shore Line believes the answer is two-fold:
- Add a double track to Michigan City, which is already underway,
- And re-route the train’s path into the South Bend Airport Station from the east to the west.
“So what we’re going to be doing is studying a route that would take us from our main line, which is down along this area here and get us to the west side of the airport, and there could be a number of pathways that are selected,” said South Shore Line President, Mike Noland.
“Today it takes us 16 to 17 minutes when we get off the mainline and go east around the airport. It’s about 3 mile stretch, 20 grade crossings. We go between 5 and 15 miles an hour in that stretch, so it takes forever to get there. By going on the west side, we can probably make that same stretch of track in about 3 minutes, so we’ve significantly cut down on travel time,” he said.
That change takes the total for an express train from 150 minutes to 90.
“90 minutes is critical. 90 minutes is within the commute window,” said Noland.
With that 90 minute express time, the ultimate goal is to encourage people working in Chicago to live in South Bend and take the South Shore Line train to work.
The South Shore Line President says that on average people who work in Chicago make a 40% higher wage so he says the hope is that money would trickle down to South Bend’s economy.
“We anticipate that that can generate around $1.2 million of extra income from a county income tax perspective alone. That’s not even talking about the other residual impacts that will occur. Property values, additional opportunities to draw in businesses to the community,” said Noland.
“We talked about connectivity being the new currency…Now we have a chance to also have a kind of rail connectivity that’s really worthy of the economy we’ve become and the community we would like to be,” said Mayor Pete.
This new connectivity, however, could mean 35 to 40 homeowners have to give up their houses.
“I love my home. I love the neighborhood. I love the oak trees… If they came down took my house from me, I would be miserable, I don’t know if they could please me with a new home,” said Karen Kazmierzak, who lives in Ardmore, one of the neighborhoods that could be affected by the re-routing.
“We don’t do this unless this is a game-changer, hundred year kind of project…and we believe this is the kind of project that can do that,” said Noland.
He estimates that by the year 2040, the project will triple ridership at the airport.
To learn more about the project—and submit any questions or concerns to the South Shore Line—click here.
NOTE: The map shown in Jess's intro was incorrect. To view the map she was describing, click here.