CHICAGO (STMW) – A “major” project to replace 22 bridges along the Union Pacific North Line and rebuild the Ravenswood project will begin in the next two weeks, according to Metra.

The 22 bridges are more than 100 years old and can no longer be economically repaired and maintained, a release from the transit agency said. The new bridges will offer increased safety that will last for more than 100 years.

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The work is not expected to impact rush hour commuters on the UP North Line, and because two tracks on the line will remain operational, the current UP North schedule will not change due to construction. However, there could be some midday, night and weekend delays due to the project, the release said.

The bridge replacements will be done in two phases of 11 bridges each. The first phase, which will take until 2015, will cover bridges over Balmoral, Foster, Winnemac, Lawrence, Leland Wilson, Sunnyside, Montrose, Bertau, Irving Park and Grace.

The work also includes retaining wall construction along the western edge of the elevated tracks, the release said.

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Bridges between Addison and Webster will be done in the second phase, which will finish in 2019.

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 during the first phase, starting in spring 2010, the release said.

Construction updates and alerts will be sent to all riders who have signed up to receive them under the “My Metra” fesature at Metra’s website

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