Category: Transit

Maywood Gets $206K, Melrose Park Gets $203K for Bike Lanes | Video Cameras for New Maywood Metra Station | More

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Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin (1st) addresses community members during a July 15 town hall held at village council chambers, 125 S. 5th Ave. in Maywood. | Michael Romain/VFP

Friday, July 28, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews

During a town hall meeting he convened in Maywood on July 15, Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin (1st) announced that the county board was set to approve a grant of around $206,000 to install a bike path along Washington Blvd.

The county board unanimously approved the grant, which is part of a $7.2 million county-wide highway improvement project, at a regular meeting on July 19.

Formally called the 2017 Invest in Cook Awards, the projects are designed to provide incentives to municipalities to encourage “non-auto” forms of transportation.

Continue reading “Maywood Gets $206K, Melrose Park Gets $203K for Bike Lanes | Video Cameras for New Maywood Metra Station | More”

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Maywood Metra Station Officially Opens to Riders

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Maywood Mayor Edwenna Perkins cuts the ribbon on the new Metra commuter station during a ceremony on June 30. | Photo provided 

Friday, June 30, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews

A new, nearly 900-square-foot indoor Metra commuter station formally opened for riders on Friday. Local elected officials, village staff and representatives from various entities involved with the station’s construction were on hand at the station, located at the corner of 5th Ave. and Main St., for a ribbon-cutting ceremony and reception.

The new station, which is heated and features heated flooring, replaces an existing shelter that was similar to a bus station and that residents felt was inadequate. The station also features  40 new parking spaces on Main Street.

The roughly $2 million station had been in the works since at least 2011, when the village applied for a Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program (CMAQ) grant to secure construction funds.

“I am so pleased to cut the ribbon for our new Metra Commuter Station,” said Maywood Mayor Edwenna Perkins. “The station is lovely and quaint and hearkens back to the glory days of Maywood that we will bring back. It will shelter our citizens as they wait for the train, and it will give others riding through another look at our town.”

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Mayor Perkins, Maywood Trustee Isiah Brandon and Metra President and CEO Don Orseno walk into the new station. | Michael Romain/VFP

Metra Executive Director/CEO Don Orseno said that 27 Metra trains a day stop in Maywood, going both directions. The new station, he said, is among more than 240 Metra commuter stations in the Chicago area.

“We couldn’t be happier that the Village of Maywood has provided this wonderful new facility for the benefit of their citizens and our customers,” said Orseno.

“At a time when capital dollars are hard to come by, it takes cooperation like this to get things done. We hope this furthers Maywood’s economic development efforts and grows our ridership.”

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Maywood residents get their first glimpses into the new Metra station on June 30. | Michael Romain/VFP

Christopher B. Burke Engineering, based in Rosemont, did design engineering and observed the construction of the station, which was designed by FGM architects.

“This new Metra station is an important addition to the Maywood community and will hopefully make Maywood residents’ commutes a bit more enjoyable,” said company president Christopher B. Burke. VFP

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Briefly: Bellwood Man Murdered May 11 | Pace Bus Changes | Property Taxes to Increase | Broadview Library Suit Drags On

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A rendering of the proposed Broadview Public Library addition. | Photo courtesy of Broadview Public Library via Cook County Chronicle 

Tuesday, May 13, 2017 || By Local News Curator || @maywoodnews

According to a June 12 Cook County Chronicle report:

“A multi-year dispute between the Broadview Public Library and the Village of Broadview took a detour May 31, when a Cook County Chancery Court judge dismissed the library’s request for sanctions against the village without prejudice, giving the library leave to re-plead.

“While law firms for both sides are supposedly negotiating a settlement, the library also asked the court to consider extra sanctions for the village, which it claims “has advanced bogus legal positions and filed frivolous pleadings to unnecessarily delay the resolution of this dispute.”

To read the full Chronicle report, click here.

Man murdered in Bellwood on May 11 

Frank Pate.pngOne man was murdered on the 1100 block of Linden Ave. in Bellwood on May 11, according to news reports.

The Cook County Medical Examiner’s office confirmed that Pate was pronounced dead at the scene at 9:44 p.m. According to medical examiner records, a head autopsy was conducted on Pate. His death was ruled a homicide.

After Pate’s murder, someone started a GoFundMe account on behalf of Brittany Valentine, who was described as Pate’s girlfriend in the campaign summary.

“Frank was an exceptional father and a great man to Brit, he was the breadwinner of their household, the love of her life and soulmate,” the summary notes. “He was a true family man. Brit is a great mother, she has a heart of gold and it hurts us deeply to see her go through this heartbreaking tragedy.”

According to the person who created the GoFundMe, Pate was killed on the day of the couple was supposed to celebrate their daughter’s first birthday.

Multiple attempts to contact Bellwood Police for comment were unsuccessful. No arrests in connection to Pate’s murder have been reported.

Pace Bus 317 to make ‘Posted Stops Only’

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The Regional Transportation Authority announced last week that Pace Route 317 Westchester will operate under a Posted Stops Only policy, beginning June 11.

“Buses on this route will stop to pick up and drop off passengers only at bus stop signs with the Pace logo and route number,” the statement reads. “This change is taking place for several reasons:

  • To improve passenger and motorist safety
  • To provide better information for riders
  • To improve the route’s on-time performance

“A handout listing all the designated bus stop locations for Route 317 will be
available on board buses, online at PaceBus.com and by calling Pace Customer Relations at (847) 364-7223, option 3. Please sign up for e-mail and text alerts about Route 317 by visiting PaceBus.com.”

Property tax hike coming for suburban taxpayers

The Chicago Sun-Times reported on June 13 that, “Homeowners in north suburban Cook County will see their property taxes go up 6.5 percent, an average of $432. Their south suburban counterparts will see a 3.9 percent increase, about $192 on average, according to the Clerk’s Office.”

To read the full Sun-Times report, click here. To read a report on the coming tax hike in Crain’s Chicago Business, click here. To read the Chicago Tribune’s 3-part investigative report on the Cook County Assessor’s pattern of property valuation, click here.  To read Cook County Clerk David Orr’s 2016 tax report, released on June 13, click here.

Marshelle Sanders contributed to this local news briefing. 

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In Maywood, Officials Break Ground on $100M Railroad Project

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Metra, UP and local, county and state elected officials break ground on April 21 in Maywood on a project to install a third track between River Forest and Melrose Park. || Below, Lois Baumann reads from The Little Engine that Could during the ceremony.| Spooner Baumann/Spooner Photography

IMG_9788.jpgFriday, April 21, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews

Metra and Union Pacific officials joined with elected officials from local, county and state governments at the corner of 5th Avenue and Main Street in Maywood on April 21 to break ground on a $100 million project to install a third track and other safety enhancements along the West Line between River Forest and Melrose Park.

The track will eliminate “two critical bottlenecks along the UP West Line that can be the source of delays for both freight and commuter trains,” according to a joint statement released by Metra and Union Pacific officials.

“The project will add nearly eight miles of third track in the only two remaining segments between Elburn and Chicago,” officials said.

Friday’s groundbreaking marked the first segment of that 8-mile track addition. The construction of that 1.8-mile section of track between River Forest and 25th Avenue in Melrose Park will start sometime in June and is expected to last for 12 months. During that time, officials said, there won’t be any service disruptions.

“We’ll establish schedules to work around [regular service],” said Bruce M. Marcheschi, Metra’s chief engineering officer. “We’ll start after the rush hour and quit before the rush hour, so we’ll be working between it. And we’ll work with our dispatchers to make sure we don’t disrupt traffic.”

Funding for the $100 million project will be paid by UP and Metra. Most of the third track will be built on land owned by UP, officials said.

Donald Orseno, Metra’s executive director and CEO, said that the third track will reduce commuter and freight train delays. Orseno said that company surveys show that delays are the most common complaint among riders.

According to Metra and UP officials, the improvement project will also enhance overall safety along the tracks, eliminate commuter curfews for freight trains, decrease the number freight trains that idle on the tracks and reduce the amount of time motorists must wait at grade crossings.

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“The Metra Union Pacific West Line (UP-W) is one of the busiest rail lines in the nation,” stated officials with Metra and UP. “More than 50 freight trains and 60 Metra trains carrying nearly 30,000 passengers share the line each day.”

The construction of a third track will also accompany safety enhancements, such as the installation of an upgraded rail signal system and new crossovers “so trains can switch tracks,” according to officials.

“This has been a long time coming,” said Lance M. Fritz, Union Pacific Railroad’s chairman, president and CEO. “We’ve been working on this project for about 12 years.”

Illinois Secretary of Transportation Randall S. Blankenhorn said that the collaboration between Metra and UP represents the future of transportation investment.

“When we think about investing in transportation, this is the kind of project that we need to be thinking about,” Blankenhorn said.

“This is how things are going to get done in the future. It’s not going to be IDOT [Illinois Department of Transportation] by themselves or IDOT with one partner,” he said. “It’s going to be multiple partners coming together, finding solutions and finding funding.”

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, who last August oversaw the adoption of the county’s first long-range transportation plan in 70 years, lauded UP and Metra’s partnership and commitment “to not only support freight rail but also to engage in projects that benefit passenger rail.”

She said that transit and multi-nodal transportation ranked first and freight ranked second among the plan’s priorities.

“So this plan hit those two priorities,” Preckwinkle said.

Lois Baumann, the executive director of Maywood Fine Arts — which opened a new dance studio down the street from the Maywood Metra station last year — said that the project will boost the local economy, particularly the downtown area.

“We have projects that fail, we have projects that succeed but we continue to work hard and we chug and chug and chug along. And then, every now and then, a big engine comes along,” she said, referencing the new Metra train shelter that is nearly completed and the new third track project.

“We’re looking forward to the next project,” said Maywood Mayor Edwenna Perkins. VFP

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State Wants to Install Toll Lanes on Eisenhower Expressway, Will Host Meeting at PMSA on Jan. 25

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An illustration of proposed car pool lanes that the Illinois Department of Transportation wants to install on the Eisenhower Expressway. | IDOT

Thursday, December 29, 2016 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews

The idea has been discussed and put before residents before, but officials with the Illinois Department of Transportation recently provided community members with an update of their plan at a meeting held earlier this month in Oak Park.

According to a Dec. 16 Chicago Tribune report, IDOT is planning on adding “a fourth lane to I-290 in each direction between Mannheim Road and Austin Boulevard, which would bring the entire expressway to four lanes in each direction between Interstate 88 and Interstate 90/94.”

The Tribune reports that IDOT would convert the two center lanes along the portion of the expressway between I-88 and Racine Avenue into a “Hot 3+” lane designed for car pooling vehicles and buses, which would use the lane for free. Other vehicles would be charged a toll.

“Three traffic lanes in each direction would remain free for drivers,” the Tribune reports, before quoting an IDOT official who said that that “idea is to set a toll rate so you have a 45 mile-per-hour speed through there, minimum, so that is then a reliable trip. As we know, there’s days when the Eisenhower is quite unreliable.”

IDOT’s “proposed toll for ineligible cars using the HOT 3+ lane could run between 12 cents and 25 cents per mile, depending on the time of day.” Toll rates would be categorized as “peak hour, peak shoulder and off-peak,” officials said.

IDOT will host two public meetings on the Eisenhower modernization project. One will take place at Proviso Math and Science Academy, 8601 W. Roosevelt Rd. in Forest Park, from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

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Bellwood’s 25th Ave. Overpass Opens, Providing Source of Commuter Relief

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A Thursday afternoon ceremony marked the opening of the 25th Avenue overpass in Bellwood. | Photos: State Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch/Facebook  || Bottom left, Illinois Transportation Secretary Randy Blankenhorn. || Illinois Department of Transportation/Facebook

bellwood-overpassThursday, December 22, 2016 || By Local News Curator || @maywoodnews

Driving has just gotten a lot easier for area commuters who utilize 25th Ave. Numerous officials from various government bodies were on hand Thursday morning for the opening of the new overpass at 25th Ave. over Union Pacific’s rail line in Bellwood.

“This new overpass pays immediate dividends for communities nearby, but its impact will be felt for years throughout the region,” said Illinois Transportation Secretary Randy Blankenhorn. “This project is what CREATE is all about: All parties coming together to find a solution that benefits everyone.”

The $41 million grade separation project, part of the Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency (CREATE) Program, had been under construction since September 2014, according to an article in Railway Track & Structures Magazine.

The project, the magazine reports, “eliminates a conflict point between 52 freight trains, 59 Metra trains and 19,000 vehicles per day. Not only does the grade separation reduce congestion and improve safety, but it also saves 28,400 hours per year of motorist delay and ensures better response times for emergency vehicles.”

Illinois Transportation Secretary Randy Blankenhorn said the new overpass “pays immediate dividends for communities nearby, but its impact will be felt for years throughout the region. This project is what CREATE is all about: All parties coming together to find a solution that benefits everyone.”

Bellwood Mayor Frank Pasquale said the project will be a “conduit for economic development, quicker emergency vehicle times and a safer traffic flow.”

“This is much more than a railroad overpass,” he said. “This is a bridge to a better quality of life for our communities.”

According to Railway Track & Structures, the overpass was funded by “ a $22.2 million contribution from Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), $2.4 million from the villages of Bellwood and Melrose Park and $16.4 million from federal, railroad and other state sources.” VFP

To read the full Railway Track & Structures article, click here.

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Expect to See More Off-duty Police at CTA Blue Line Station Soon

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The Forest Park Blue Line terminus. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2016 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews

Commuters who frequent the Chicago Transit Authority’s Forest Park Blue Line terminus, 711 S. Desplaines Ave., should expect to see more off-duty Forest Park police officers patrolling the facility soon.

At a council meeting last month, Forest Park’s board voted unanimously to enter into an intergovernmental agreement with the CTA, which would allow full-time Forest Park police officers who are working off-duty to patrol CTA properties in that village, according to a recent Forest Park Review report.

The review noted that Forest Park Police Chief Tom Aftanas said “contract details are still being worked out and a start date for the program has yet to be determined.”

According to Aftanas, “one off-duty officer will work in uniform from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. daily, including weekends and holidays, patrolling CTA property in the village, including buses, trains and property.” VFP

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