By Railfan & Railroad Staff
MICHIGAN CITY, Ind. — A century of street running on the South Shore Line in Michigan City, Ind., will come to an end this weekend. Starting Monday, February 28, bus service will substitute train service between the Carroll Avenue and Dune Park stations through at least this fall. Passengers going between Chicago and South Bend, Ind., will have to transfer from a train to a bus and back to a train to complete their journey.
The landmark 11th Street Station in Michigan City, Ind., opened in 1927, and was closed in 1987. The station was demolished on January 31, but the terra cotta facade was salvaged to be repurposed in the new station complex to be built as part of the realignment project. A morning train from Chicago pauses at 11th Street on April 18, 2011. —Photo by Otto M. Vondrak.
While that happens, the stretch of track running down 11th Street will be doubled and the grade-separated. The stretch of street running through Michigan City has long been one of the most iconic spots on the South Shore Line for photography. For years, passengers were able to board and detrain right in the middle of the street, a throwback to the South Shore’s interurban roots. The alignment down 11th Street dates back to 1908, with the iconic 11th Street Station opening in 1927. The 11th Street station was closed on April 30, 2021, so that preliminary work could begin on the realignment project. The station building itself was closed in 1987, and was torn down on January 31. The terra cotta facade was saved, and will be reinstalled as part of the new station complex that will be constructed with high-level platforms and additional parking.
The double-track project in Michigan City is part of a multi-million dollar effort to improve service on the South Shore. As far back as 2009, Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District — operators of the South Shore Line — explored the options to relocate or rebuild the main line through Michigan City in an effort to relieve congestion and increase service. Once it is complete, the railroad will be able to run additional trains during rush hour and a trip between Michigan City and Chicago will take 67 minutes as opposed to today’s 1 hour and 40 minutes.
The 11th Street corridor is also shared by freight trains operated by the Chicago South Shore & South Bend, a subsidiary of Anacostia Pacific. A pair of GP38s make their way down 11th Street on April 17, 2011. —Photo by Otto M. Vondrak.
The Double Track NWI project includes almost 17 miles of double-track to be installed between Gary and Michigan City, four new bridges, eight new station platforms and increased parking, and the closure of 21 grade crossings in Michigan City to help increase average train speeds. The single track street-running will be replaced with ballasted double track, and 11th Street will be converted into a single one-way lane for eastbound automobile traffic. The project is scheduled to be completed in 2024.