CHICAGO (CBS) — Metra officials said Friday that bridge reconstruction work will resume in late April along the Union Pacific North Line. But officials insisted there’s no reason for riders to get anxious, much less angry.
As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Bob Roberts reports, Metra promised Friday that the project won’t require schedule changes and should cause minimal service disruptions, if any.
“We’ve thrown out that train schedule that we ran for a couple of months,” said Metra Deputy Executive Director Bill Tupper.
LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Bob Roberts reports
The key is keeping two tracks open at all times, just as Metra did when rebuilding Rock Island District and Union Pacific Northwest Line bridges.
Tupper said those projects went well.
“I don’t want to say we had absolutely no delays, but any delays we had were very minimal,” he said. “This is typical of what we’ve done before so we’re not anticipating delays.”
The cost is higher than the now-discarded one-track plan — an extra $40 million to install a new retaining wall on the west side of the 2-1/2 miles of right-of-way, all on Chicago’s north side, and the work will take till 2019 to complete. But Tupper said that by keeping both tracks along the west side of the right-of-way, planners will create room for re-installation of a third express track, if the money becomes available.
The third track, which ran as far north as Evanston, was pulled up by the Chicago & North Western Ry. in 1984 as an economy move, and long-time riders say service on the line has not been quite as good since.
Tupper said Metra will consult with city officials, aldermen and area residents to minimize disruption in the neighborhoods surrounding the tracks, and will work with them to put in new vegetation, including ivy along the new embankment wall.
A community meeting will be scheduled in April on the project, and efforts will be made to minimize vibrations to surrounding buildings because of the work.
The project also calls for the $12 million reconstruction of the Ravenswood stop, the busiest on the UP North Line outside of its Ogilvie Transportation Center downtown terminal.
Union Pacific, which bought the C&NW in 1995, owns the line and operates it under contract to Metra. Freight trains do not normally operate over the line, between Clybourn and and a point just south of Waukegan.