Metra release 2023 construction programme

Metra have revealed a comprehensive list of construction projects in 2023 which will ensure that passengers can enjoy safe and reliable services.

METRA Commuter Trains in the Fox Lake, IL depopt waiting for their scheduled runs to the Union Station Chicago

Metra and its railroad and municipal partners are undertaking a comprehensive list of construction projects in 2023 to help ensure that customers can continue to enjoy safe and reliable service. Construction work got underway the first week of April and will continue through the fall, weather permitting.

In 2023, Metra is focusing nearly a quarter of its annual capital spending ($119.5 million) on rebuilding and renewing station facilities. In fact, our five-year plan includes improvement projects for about 20% of Metra’s 242 – soon to be 244 – stations.

“Clean, modern, and accessible passenger facilities are an integral part of a good customer experience and create a welcoming gateway to a community,” Jim Derwinski, Executive Director/CEO for Metra, said. “For that reason, our capital plans over the next several years are focused on investments in stations across the Metra system.”

The projects

The Metra Electric Community Initiative, a multiyear plan to improve 13 stations on the line, is prime example of Metra’s focus on connecting to the communities it serves. Work is continuing this year at the 147th St. Station and scheduled to start at six more: Homewood, 95th, 79th, 87th, 103rd and Millennium (South Water entrance). Each project will completely renew station facilities and focus on accessibility features, such as elevators, to ensure people can easily access the system.

In addition to the major station projects listed above, Metra is planning to replace the existing wooden platforms at the 83rd Street and 67th Street stations and the stairs and retaining walls at 27th Street. Major station projects are also being planned in 2024 for the Van Buren, 59th-60th St./University of Chicago, 111th Street/Pullman and Harvey stations.

Construction is also ongoing at two new stations: the Peterson Ridge Station on the Union Pacific North Line, slated for completion this year, and the Auburn Park Station on the Rock Island Line, scheduled for completion in 2024.

On its Milwaukee District North Line, the Grayland Station is being rebuilt in conjunction with the replacement of a 124-year-old bridge over Milwaukee Avenue. Metra is also finishing the rehab of Blue Island Vermont Street on the Rock Island Line and the new inbound platform and shelters at Ravenswood on the UP North Line.

Preserving the historic station facilities across the Metra system is also a part of the 2023 capital programme, with major rehabilitation projects set to begin on the 132-year-old Kenilworth Station on the UP North Line and the 97-year-old LaGrange Road Station on the BNSF Line.

Platform replacement and repair projects are scheduled at Grayslake on the Milwaukee District North Line, Wood Dale and Big Timber on the Milwaukee District West Line, Brainerd on the Rock Island Line, Oak Lawn/Patriot on the SouthWest Service, Kenosha and Clybourn on the UP North Line and Kedzie on the UP West Line.

Other station improvements planned in 2023 include the addition of 340 new bicycle parking spaces across Metra, with projects at 17 stations. Metra will also be focusing on smaller ADA accessibility projects such as replacing worn tactile edging on its platforms and improving pathways at station facilities.

Reliability improvements

Stations are just one part of the equation, however. Maintaining reliable and safe on-time performance requires continual renewal of track and signal systems. Across the Metra system, there is a plan to replace nearly 210,000 ties, at least 7,500 feet of rail, and 24 crossings in 2023. Additionally, two separate projects are planned to test new technologies that monitor the performance of safety equipment at rail crossings, with the goal of using that data to proactively identify maintenance needs.

The Metra system is a $35 billion asset that requires ongoing investment. The focus on stations in 2023 is part and parcel of living up to the goals set out in Metra’s 2023-2027 Strategic Plan. Each of the projects will enhance Metra service to help  grow ridership and provide mobility choices for the entire Chicago region while ensuring the Metra experience is safe, easy and enjoyable for all  customers.