Metra Begins 2020 Rail Improvements

Metra, the Chicago area commuter rail service, will begin its 2020 construction program earlier than planned due to reductions in Metra service. The 2020 construction program includes starting construction on two new stations and the replacement of a 121-year-old bridge over Milwaukee Avenue in Chicago.

“We plan to take full advantage of this service reduction to get a head start on the projects necessary to maintain our system,” said Jim Derwinski, Metra CEO and executive director. “While we’d much rather be running normal service, we’re using this opportunity as best we can. By doing this, we hope to reduce the number of construction schedules needed this summer and may be able to finish some work more quickly than normal.”

The program includes:

  • Station improvements are planned for 25 of Metra’s 242 stations this year, and construction is expected to begin on the $30 million Auburn Park Station in Chicago and the $15 million station at Peterson/Ridge on the Union Pacific North Line.
  • Rail crossing improvements to 37 road crossings system-wide.
  • Track improvements, including replacement of 53,000 railroad ties; adding eight miles of third track between River Forest and Geneva; and replacing multiple switches as part of the CREATE program’s B-1 project.
  • Bridge improvements to seven bridges are planned on the Metra system, including the replacement of century-old bridges between Grace and Balmoral streets in Chicago and across the Fox River in Elgin on the Milwaukee District West Line. Metra will also break ground on the replacement of a 121-year-old bridge over Milwaukee Avenue, build a new bridge at 43rd and Root streets in Chicago on the Rock Island Line and make repairs to a bridge at Vincennes Avenue.
  • Signal and communications improvements include a $28.5 million project to install fiber optic cable on the Rock Island and SouthWest Service lines. Track circuits will be upgraded on the Metra Electric Line, the A-20 interlocker on the Milwaukee District North Line will have new dispatching control circuitry installed for PTC and the interlockers at Grayland and Rondout will undergo renewal projects. Signal improvements will be made on the Milwaukee District West Line.

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.