Metra has been awarded a $12.5 million federal grant to improve service reliability on the Milwaukee District North Line by upgrading three out-of-date switching complexes and associated signals.
The grant, which was awarded under the Federal State Partnership for the State of Good Repair program, will be matched with $9.6 million in Metra funds, $2.6 million from CP and $1.3 million from CN to cover the costs of the $26 million project. The freight railroads use or cross the Metra tracks and will benefit from the upgrades.
The grant request was supported by Illinois Representatives Jesus G. “Chuy” Garcia, Mike Quigley, Daniel W. Lipinski, Jan Schakowsky, Danny K. Davis, Sean Casten, Raja Krishnamoorthi, Bill Foster, Bobby L. Rush, Bradley S. Schneider, Robin L. Kelly, Cheri Bustos and Lauren Underwood and Senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth.
“Metra would like to thank the entire Illinois congressional delegation for their support and successful advocacy for this grant,” said Metra CEO/Executive Director Jim Derwinski. “This money will help us upgrade the Milwaukee District North Line and improve service reliability for our customers.”
The project will rehabilitate and modernize the interlockings, or switching complexes, at three junctions along the line – near the Grayland Station in Chicago, near Willow Road in Glenview and at Rondout in Lake County. The three interlockings were originally constructed before Metra was formed in 1984 and were last rehabilitated in the late 1990s and early 2000s, but there are still some components dating back to the 1930s.
The work will bring signal components into a state of good repair, improve compatibility with Positive Train Control (a new safety system) and replace obsolete components for which replacement parts are no longer available. Signals will be replaced and upgraded at all three interlockings, and at Rondout, a new connection to the tracks leading to Fox Lake will be added, eliminating an operational bottleneck.
The three interlockings are used by Metra, Amtrak and the two freight railroads and are among the most congested in Metra’s system. Benefits include enhanced safety, improved reliability and reduced congestion. The improvements should also result in fewer delays by maintaining current operating speeds and avoiding future speed restrictions.