The dawn of a new era in Michigan City

Two and a half years after the closure of the last of its kind street-running 11th Street station, the station has returned to life this past week. The South Shore Line is one of the last interurbans left operating in the United States, and until 2021 retained one street-running section in Michigan City. However, as part of a project to upgrade the line the street-running section needed to be removed since, despite how interesting it may be to railfans, it is slow, dangerous, and single-tracked.

Inbound train approaching 11th Street Station
Train on the old street running section in Michigan City

After a long period of running shuttle buses, the street running alignment has been replaced by a double track alignment with a one-way street adjacent to it. Here is a typical section:

Tracks west of Lafayette Street
New dedicated ROW for the South Shore Line and the street running next to it

The station itself has been replaced with a new modern station with high-level platforms instead of crossing a lane of traffic:

Inbound platform at 11th Street/Michigan City, looking east
Rebuilt 11th Street station

In addition to building new platforms, a new station building is planned, which will not only feature a parking garage and ground-level retail and a waiting area, but also feature apartments above the building.

On my trip to and from the station, we got to go fast. We were no longer crawling for two miles, but instead actually going fast. Boarding also was very quick thanks to the high platforms.

While most interurbans bit the dust decades ago, this one held on and has survived to today, and now is receiving some much-needed upgrades that will allow it to continue being a vital transportation artery for generations to come.