Metra and its railroad and municipal partners today announced a comprehensive list of construction projects planned for 2018. In addition to major projects to replace aging bridges on the UP North and Milwaukee District West lines and construct new track segments on the UP West Line, the 2018 construction program also includes numerous smaller infrastructure improvement projects distributed across Metra’s 11 lines. Together, these projects will ensure Metra customers continue to enjoy safe and reliable service. Construction work got underway the first week of April and will continue through the fall, weather permitting.
“We plan to take full advantage of the construction season by making improvements where we can with our limited funding,” said Metra CEO/Executive Director Jim Derwinski. “Our goal is to be as efficient as possible with the resources available to maintain our rail system and to move forward with the upgrades necessary for the implementation of the Positive Train Control safety system.”
A portion of the work is being performed by Metra’s in-house crews, who are dispatched to make repairs to stations and carry out other smaller jobs, as well as contracted construction firms for larger projects. Metra is also contributing funds for station repairs and upgrades that will be performed by a municipality or its contractors.
In Metra’s 2018 capital program, $84.8 million has been allocated for the types of construction projects included in this release: $5.5 million for station improvements, $20.9 million for track maintenance and improvements, $12 million for bridge projects, $4.5 million for rail crossing replacements and $39.7 million for signal system upgrades, including $30 million for PTC. Additional funding for some of the projects included in this release was allocated in prior years’ capital programs or came from outside sources, including municipalities and Metra’s freight railroad partners.
Timing of the projects listed below may change and, when warranted, projects may be added to or removed from this list. A map showing the location of each planned project can be found here.
Improvements are planned for 30 of Metra’s 242 stations this year. Along the Metra Electric Line, our program to spruce up our stations continues with painting and general repair projects scheduled for the Riverdale, 147th Street and University Park stations. Warming shelters will also be added or replaced at the 63rd, 75th, 83rd, 87th, 91st and 103rd Street stations on the mainline to University Park. Construction will also continue on a $3 million project to renovate the Hazel Crest Station.
On the Milwaukee District North Line, work will continue on the $7.3 million renovation of the Healy Station and on the $1.2 million project to expand parking at the Grayland Station. The platforms at the North Glenview Station will be replaced and a project to replace the station house at Prairie Crossing will begin. The exterior of the Golf Station will be painted and platform lighting will be replaced at Mayfair. By year’s end, the village of Libertyville is expected to start a $1.1 million project to rehab its station.
On the North Central Service, Metra forces will replace the platforms at the Vernon Hills and Washington Street/Grayslake stations.
There will be five station projects on the Rock Island Line in 2018, including the $2.95 million renovation of the concourse at Chicago’s LaSalle Street Station. Platform replacements are scheduled at the 111th Street/Morgan Park and Hickory Creek stations. New visual information signs are also planned for the 95th Street Station. The old station facility at New Lenox will be moved and replaced with a temporary facility until the village builds a new facility as part of a redevelopment of the station area.
On the UP West Line, platforms will be replaced at the Kedzie and River Forest stations. Along the UP Northwest Line, the Cumberland Station will be renovated and a $2.4 million project at the Cary Station will build a new station house, ticket office and platforms. Construction will continue in 2018 on a project to rehab the station facility at Lake Bluff on the UP North Line.
A project to replace platforms at the Western Springs Station on the BNSF Line begun in 2017 is expected to be completed this summer.
Metra and its railroad partners plan to replace approximately 92,000 railroad ties this year as part of the following track improvement projects:
BNSF will replace about 12,000 ties on one of its main tracks between Hinsdale and Aurora. In addition, BNSF will be resurfacing mainline track from Downers Grove to Aurora.
On April 5, Metra began work to replace 17,000 ties from Fox Lake to Libertyville on the Milwaukee District North Line. The work will also include the replacement of five switches, brush clearing and the continued upgrade of the signal system on this section of track in preparation for PTC. The work on this single-track section of the line has required a construction schedule that limits midday service north of Grayslake on weekdays and includes the closure of the line between Fox Lake and Lake Forest for three consecutive weekends in April,
On the Metra Electric Line, Metra forces will replace 10,000 ties on the South Chicago and Blue Island branch lines. The work is scheduled to begin in May. Another 10,000 ties will be installed on the Rock Island’ Beverly Branch Line. The work is scheduled to begin later in the summer.
Union Pacific Railroad plans to continue or start a number of projects in 2018. On the UP West Line, work will continue on two multiyear projects to add eight miles of third track to remove bottlenecks that are a significant source of freight and passenger train delays. The two projects combined will cost more than $100 million. The first project includes construction of 1.8 miles of new track from the Vale interlocking in River Forest (just east of the Des Plaines River) to 25th Avenue in Melrose Park. The second project includes construction of 6.1 miles of new track from Kress Road in West Chicago to Peck Road in Geneva. Construction began in 2017 and is expected to continue through 2019. Funding is being provided by Union Pacific and Metra. UP also plans to replace 43,000 ties on the UP West Line as part of its general maintenance program.
Improvements are planned for 15 bridges on the Milwaukee District West, Metra Electric and UP North lines.
Construction began in the fall of 2017 along the Milwaukee District West Line on a $34 million multiyear project to replace a 130-year-old single-track bridge over the Fox River in Elgin with a double-track bridge. A portion of the project is being funded through a $14 million federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant. The remainder of the funding is being provided by Metra and Canadian Pacific.
Along the Metra Electric Line, Metra will rehabilitate its bridges at 63rd and 64th streets. The $1.2 million project includes the removal and replacement of deteriorated concrete from the bridge abutments and the underside of the bridge decks. The bridges’ structural steel will be cleaned and epoxy coating will be applied to the underside of the bridge decks. Concrete sidewalks and handrails will also be replaced and repaired.
On the UP North Line, Metra will continue a multiyear project to replace 11 bridges for the inbound tracks over Grace, Irving Park, Berteau, Montrose, Sunnyside, Wilson, Leland, Lawrence, Winnemac, Foster and Balmoral. As part of this $45 million project, the new inbound half of the Ravenswood Station will be built. A $15.5 million project will replace rail bridges that cross over Webster Avenue and the North Branch of the Chicago River. Changes were made to the evening and weekend schedules on the line to allow single tracking through the construction area.
ROAD CROSSING IMPROVEMENTS
Metra and its railroad partners plan to make improvements to 21 road crossings systemwide in 2018, including:
BNSF will replace crossings at Forest Avenue and Main Street in Downers Grove and Prairie Avenue in Brookfield.
On the Metra Electric Line, crossings will be replaced at 90th Street, 73rd Street and Dorchester Avenue on the South Chicago Branch of the line. The Perry Avenue crossing on the Blue Island Branch will also be replaced.
Metra will replace crossings at Devon Avenue and Racine Avenue in Chicago, St. Mary’s Road in Libertyville and Route 120 in Grayslake along the Milwaukee District North Line.
On the Milwaukee District West Line, crossings will be replaced at Narragansett Avenue in Chicago, 73rd Avenue in Elmwood Park, Medinah Road in Medinah and Raymond Street in Elgin.
On the Rock Island Line, crossings will be replaced on the mainline at 95th and 107th streets in Chicago and at Oak Park Avenue in Tinley Park.
Crossings will be replaced at Joliet Highway in New Lenox and North Street in Manhattan on the SouthWest Service Line.
Replacement work will also be performed at First Avenue in Maywood on the UP West Line.
As railroads across the U.S. prepare for the federally mandated implementation of the Positive Train Control (PTC) safety system, Metra crews are actively upgrading signal and communications systems on each of the lines it controls for compatibility with PTC. The 2018 capital program includes $30 million for PTC-related signal and communications projects and another $2 million for signal system upgrades. Some of the costs for work that began in 2017 were included in the 2017 capital program. Similar work is also being performed across the lines controlled and operated by our freight partners.
Metra’s planned signal and communications infrastructure work for 2018 includes:
- Metra Electric Line – Complete of a $9.3 million project to upgrade the signal system at the 11th Place interlocking.
- Milwaukee District North Line – Install a new signal system along 17.7 miles of track between Libertyville and Fox Lake, including the construction of six new control points and the renewal of the interlocking at Rondout. The 2018 capital program includes $3 million for the replacement of the Rondout interlocking.
- Milwaukee District West Line– Continue a $6 million project to install a new interlocking in Elgin and upgrade seven crossings as part of the Fox River Bridge replacement project. Renew interlockers at Elgin and at Almora near the Big Timber Road Station, install a new control point at Franklin Park and renew a control point at Edginton Street in Franklin Park. The interlocking at B12 in Franklin Park will also be modified to accommodate the new signaling system at Edginton as well as signal crossing improvements from milepost 11 in River Grove to Tower B-17 in Bensenville.
- Rock Island Line – Upgrade the signal system and crossing circuitry on the line’s Beverly Branch for compatibility with PTC, upgrade interlockings at Gresham and near the Brainerd Station on the Beverley Branch and upgrade crossing circuitry at 139th Street near the Robbins Station. Install new control points at Vermont Street in Blue Island and Robbins and renew control points at Mokena, west of New Lenox, Miller and Richards streets in Joliet and the EJ&E interlocking in Joliet.
- SouthWest Service Line – Complete an upgrade of the signal system at an interlocking near 74th Street in Chicago at an estimated cost of $1 million.
Most work will be performed during off-peak hours and on weekends. Metra will issue construction schedules for its trains during some of these projects. Construction schedules are issued when workers need to be on or very near the tracks, requiring trains to reduce speed or stop before proceeding through the construction zone. These schedules, in general, can add 10 to 15 minutes to the length of a trip. When construction schedules are in place, the modified schedules are reflected in Metra’s web-based Rail-Time Tracker and Schedule Finder and in the Ventra App’s Transit Tracker feature. The construction schedules will be posted on our website here.