NIRPC separating rail and road traffic
BY MATT MIKUS firstname.lastname@example.org September 1, 2013 11:08PM
The crossing on State Road 149 in Porter County is one of 15 crossings highlighted in NIRPC's recent study. | Matt Mikus~Post-Tribune
NIRPC 15 at-grade crossings priorities
Calumet Avenue north of Hudson Street, Hammond
165th Street east of Indianapolis Blvd., Hammond
Calumet Avenue near 45th Street, Munster
Dickey Road beneath Cline Avenue, East ChicagoState Road 321 east of Kennedy Avenue, East Chicago
Euclid Road north of State Road 312, East Chicago
Kennedy Avenue south of Scherland Drive, Schererville
U.S. 20/5th Avenue east of Cline Avenue, Gary
Clark Road north of 4th Avenue, Gary
Broadway Street north of 41st Street, Gary
Old Hobart Rd north of U.S. 20, Gary
Colfax Road south of Gatlin Drive, Griffith
15th and Francis, Chesterton
State Road 149 north of I-90, Porter County
Tower Road south of Lincolnway, Porter County
Updated: October 3, 2013 6:16AM
The Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission identified the top 15 at-grade railroad crossings that should be considered to separate vehicle traffic from rail.
The study uses metrics from average delay per vehicle, number of vehicles stopped, average time the gate at a crossing is down, and the likelihood of accidents at a crossing.
The report also considers expected costs to create bridges to reduce at-grade crossings.
The amount of freight shipped on rail is expected to increase, said Jack Eskin, regional planner at NIRPC. The Federal Railroad Administration estimates a growth of 22 percent increase in total tonnage shipped between 2010 and 2035.
Since rails are often privately owned, Eskin said community planning around freight and rail is reletively new.
“If more trains are moving through the region,” Eskin said, “then communities transportation networks need to consider these high frequency, high speed trains.”
The document, which is expected to be completed within the next few months, will help communities decide what crossings to focus on, and helps highlight potential funding sources.
Tom Vander Woulde, a former NIRPC employee who helped start the research in 2010, worked with Purdue University Calumet Engineering students to gather the data.
“There’s this imense amount of rail traffic in the area,” Vander Woulde said, “If we don’t highlight this problem and quantify it, we wouldn’t be able to make the case for funding.
Crossings with heavy delays include Calumet Avenue between Goslin Street and Hudson Street; Dickey Road beneath Cline Avenue and State Road 312 east of Kennedy Avenue both in East Chicago; 5th Avenue east of Cline Avenue, Clark Road north of 4th Avenue and Old Hobart Road north of U.S. 20 in Gary; Kennedy Avenue south of Scherland Drive in Schererville; and Francis and 15th Street in Chesterton.
The highest safety concerns include crossings at State Road 149 in Porter County north of Interstate 90, Clark Road in Gary, State road 312 in East Chicago, Euclid Avenue north of State Road 312 in East Chicago, Dickey Road in East Chicago, and 165th Street in Hammond.
Alleviating congestion caused by at-grade crossings can also help speed up shipping freight, and open opportunities for potential high speed passenger service in the future, Eskin said.
The report, along with NIRPC assistance, can help towns plan for future infrastructure projects.
“At this point,” Eskin said, “It’s really up to the community to create a plan and decide what they want to do.”