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UP North bridge project to resume with two-track operation; No schedule change required

(March 14, 2011) - 
Metra will resume work in April on a major project to replace 22 aging bridges along the Union Pacific North line on the north side of Chicago, as well as to build a completely new Ravenswood Station.
 
Unlike last summer, when Metra tried to operate inbound and outbound UP North trains on a single track in the construction zone, the new plan calls for maintaining the existing two-track operation. That means the current UP North schedule will not be changed.
 
However, the new approach will cost up to $42.2 million more, bringing the total cost of the project to $215 million. That’s because keeping two tracks open will require a new track to be built closer to the western edge of the right of way, which in turn will require extensive and expensive retaining wall work to support the new track. It was Metra’s desire to save money on the retaining wall work that prompted it to attempt the single-track plan last year.
 
The 22 bridges are more than 100 years old and can no longer be economically repaired and maintained. The new bridges will offer increased safety and will last for more than 100 years.
 
Their replacement will be done in two phases of 11 bridges each. The first phase, which will cost $112 million and take until November 2015, will cover bridges over Balmoral, Foster, Winnemac, Lawrence, Leland, Wilson, Sunnyside, Montrose, Berteau, Irving Park and Grace. Construction of the new Ravenswood Station, the only stop in the construction zone and the busiest stop on the UP North line, will also be done in the first phase.
 
Bridges between Addison and Webster will be done in the second phase, which will cost $103 million and will finish in November 2019.
 
The new Ravenswood Station, to be rebuilt in its current location, will offer longer, covered platforms, warming shelters, improved lighting, landscaping, a ticket office, vendor space, ramps and stairs. It will be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
 
UP North trains have been using a temporary platform on the inbound side of Ravenswood since last fall. Trains will continue to use that platform until the first phase of the bridge project is done in 2015.
 
Now a temporary platform will also be built on the outbound side, north of Lawrence. Trains will use that temporary platform starting in a few weeks until the outbound side of the new station is completed in about two years.
 
Construction updates and alerts will be sent to all riders who have signed up to receive them under the “My Metra” feature at Metra’s website.
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