Tag: Metra

RTA Seeking Public Comments for Updated Maywood Station Area Plan

Wednesday, September 13, 2017 || By Community Editor || @maywoodnews 

Featured image: A conceptual drawing of a downtown development in Maywood included in the 2004 RTA station area plan. | RTA

The Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) recently announced the start of a public comment period for nine proposed program projects, including one in Maywood. The public comment period is open until Sept. 30.

Continue reading “RTA Seeking Public Comments for Updated Maywood Station Area Plan”

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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”

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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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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In From the Cold: Maywood Breaks Ground on New Metra Station

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Maywood Mayor Edwenna Perkins, center, with Donald A. Orseno, Metra’s executive director and CEO, during a Nov. 7 groundbreaking ceremony for a new train depot at the village’s 5th Avenue Metra stop. Numerous trustees, along with state Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch (7th) attended. | Shanel Romain/VFP | Below left: An architectural rendering of the proposed Metra stop. | Christopher Burke Engineering

StationMonday, November 7, 2016 || By Shanel Romain || @maywoodnews

On Monday, Maywood officials broke ground on a train depot to be built at the 5th Avenue Metra station in the village.

The station has 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 funds for the station’s construction.

Around $1.5 million of the roughly $2.3 million project will be paid for with CMAQ funding, while roughly $900,000 will be paid for with escrow funds from the expired St. Charles TIF fund.

Last August, after provoking residents’ outrage over plans to move the proposed Metra station from 5th Ave. to 9th Ave., Union Pacific Rail Road (UP) and Metra officials reverted to the original proposed 5th Ave. location.

At the Nov. 7 groundbreaking ceremony, Maywood Mayor Edwenna Perkins lauded the fact that the shelter was finally becoming a reality.

“This is a long time overdue,” said Perkins. “We’re moving forward. When the people get a mind to work, change will come. This is change.”

Village officials said they’re shooting for a January 2017 completion date for the shelter. Work has already started to convert land near the proposed train depot into free commuter parking.

“This will be an enclosed, heated shelter, so commuters will have protection from the elements,” said Demetrios Skoufis, a government affairs official with Metra.

“It will also feature some space that could possibly provide economic development opportunities,” he said.

Maywood Village Manager Willie Norfleet, Jr., said that he envisions the depot as part of more comprehensive development in the area.

“We’re hoping this becomes a much more welcoming scenario,” said Norfleet of the 5th Ave. area, which has historically considered the heart of Maywood’s downtown.

“We’re improving the parking lot across the street [from the Metra stop] and Maywood Fine Arts just built their dance studio,” Norfleet said. “When people get off at Maywood, they’re going to be getting the best and the newest scenario.” VFP

Michael Romain contributed to this story.

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Above, middle: Don Orseno speaks with Louis Baumann, the co-founder of Maywood Fine Arts and shakes hands with Trustee Henderson Yarbrough, third from bottom. Bottom, in a few months, the bus shelter at the 5th Ave. Metra stop will be replaced by a depot. Efforts are already underway to convert a village-owned parking lot into free commuter spaces. | Shanel Romain/VFP

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Maywood Approves $460K for Alley Improvements | $200K Approved for Train Station Construction | More

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One of the alleys slated for improvement after the Maywood Board of Trustees voted to award a construction contract to Triggi Construction at a June 9 special meeting. | File

Friday, June 10, 2016 || By Michael Romain 

At a June 9 special meeting, the Maywood Board of Trustees approved the awarding of a $456,709 contract to Triggi Construction, Inc. for alley and parking lot improvements. Construction is projected to start on June 27 and to be finished in mid-August.

The alley improvements will take place between Main Street and Lake Street, between 9th and 8th Avenues, between 6th and 5th Avenues and between 5th and 4th Avenues. Parking lot improvements will take place on village-owned property adjacent to the Maywood Fine Arts dance studio currently under construction on Fifth Avenue, between Main and Lake Streets.

The scope of the project includes alley pavements, the replacement and//or removal of defective concrete curb, gutter and sidewalk, drainage improvements and the construction of an asphalt parking lot, among other improvements. The village will fund the project through a St. Charles Road TIF escrow account.

At the June 9 meeting, Mayor Edwenna Perkins expressed her dissatisfaction with Triggi Construction. She said, based on past work the company did in the village, she wasn’t comfortable with them doing the job. Triggi was the lowest bid among eight proposals and it underbid the engineer’s estimate of the project by more than $20,000.

The village’s contracted engineering firm, Edwin Hancock Engineering Co., however, found Triggi “qualified to complete the work specified,” according to a memo. Hancock noted that it based its judgment on “past village experiences, the interview of contractor supplied references from other communities, and the review of their current work under contract.”

Triggi’s most recent work in the village was a 2014 Washington Boulevard roadway improvement project, which entailed the repair of that street from 6th to 2nd Avenues. In 2012, Triggi completed water main and roadway improvements on Main Street.

At the June 9 meeting, Trustee Michael Rogers told village staff members to track the project’s progress in order to ensure that Triggi was doing quality work.

Fifth Avenue train station construction agreement approved

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A proposed design of a new train station at the Fifth Avenue Metra station, which moved closer to completion after the Maywood Board of Trustees approved a roughly $190,000 construction agreement with Christopher Burke Engineering on June 9. | File

At the June 9 meeting, the board also approved an agreement with Christopher B. Burke Engineering worth roughly $190,000, which would go toward the construction of the Fifth Avenue train station.

The scope of Burke’s work would include removing the existing bus shelter at the site, building a warming shelter and installing ADA-approved parking facilities, among other tasks.

The proposed $2.3 million station has 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 funds for the station’s construction.

Board approves $221K for new fire engine as chief says personnel lacking

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The board also utilized the June 9 special meeting to unanimously approve an invoice of roughly $220,000 for the purchase of an emergency response chassis for the Maywood Fire Department, which has long been troubled by an aging, increasingly unreliable fleet of emergency response vehicles.

Perkins approved the purchase despite her vocal criticism of the proposed purchase in the past. At Thursday’s meeting, she prefaced her vote in favor of the purchase by noting her disapproval of the expenditure, which she has said is too large considering the village’s cash-strapped financial condition.

In a memo attached to the invoice, Maywood Fire Chief Craig Bronaugh noted that his department is currently awaiting five new hires.

“As a result of not having these new hires,” Bronaugh wrote, “the department is experiencing excessive overtime […] With the firefighters’ vacationing season quickly approaching, without the addition of new hires to fill the vacancies, this issue will continue.” VFP

New Track Between Melrose Park and River Forest Could Mean Less Waiting For Slow Or Idle Freight Trains, Says UP Official

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Friday, February 12, 2016 || By Michael Romain 

Officials from Union Pacific Railroad (UP) were on hand during a Feb. 10 Legal, License and Ordinance Committee (LLOC) meeting to update Maywood residents on the fourth, and final, phase of a $165 million overhaul of the Union Pacific West Line (UP-W), one of the busiest rail lines in the country, according to UP officials.

Lisa Stark, a public affairs representative for UP, said that construction on a 1.8 mile-long third track between the UP’s Vale Interlocking Facility in River Forest and 25 Avenue in Melrose Park, could begin later this year or early 2017. Construction could last for roughly 12 months, she said.

The additional rail line means that fewer drivers would have to wait as their engines idle on 25th Avenue, for instance, as a freight train sits on the tracks, Stark said.

“We have to curfew our freight trains during the morning and evening commute hours,” she said. “What that means is we aren’t running freight trains in the morning between 6 AM and 9 AM and in the afternoon rush hour from 4 PM to 7 PM. We essentially get a rail traffic jam. Trains line up all the way across Illinois and back up into Iowa.”

That translates into pretty angry drivers who get caught at crossings by a seemingly unending trail of containers moving at a glacial pace.

Metra and UP officials say that, in all, the $165 million overhaul includes the addition of eight miles of track on the UP-W line and will result in reduced motorist wait times at grade crossings, fewer idling freight trains, reduced commuter and freight rail congestion, fewer commuter and freight train delays and safer crossings (the improvements also include the installation of an upgraded rail signal system and station improvements).

But the final phase, the installation of that additional 1.8 mile track between River Forest and Melrose Park, won’t come without its complications.

Residents should expect temporary road closures at 1st, 5th and 9th Avenues during the track’s construction.

Rick Conrad, with the engineering firm Alfred Benesch and Company, said the streets in the immediate vicinity of the tracks will need to be modified in order to accommodate pedestrians and become ADA compliant.

First and 5th Avenues are both owned by the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), so their modifications will be regulated by the state. Since 9th Ave. is owned by the village, its modification will be regulated according to local laws.

Conrad and Stark said those three roads won’t be closed simultaneously and that the closures might last for roughly six weeks.

Some residents at the Feb. 10 meeting, however, expressed concerns about what the track construction might do to local traffic and road conditions — and what entity will bear the economic burdens associated with construction complications, such as damage done to the village’s already stressed streets.

Stark said she couldn’t answer those questions immediately, but that railroad officials would coordinate with village officials in the coming weeks to discuss the construction process and to devise a plan to inform residents of future developments.

No Quorum at Feb. 10 committee meeting

A Legal, License and Ordinance Committee (LLOC) meeting scheduled for Feb. 10 just wasn’t meant to be.

Only three people on the Maywood Board of Trustees — Mayor Edwenna Perkins and Trustees Isiah Brandon and Michael Rogers — showed up. Trustees Antoinette Dorris, Melvin Lightford, Ron Rivers and Henderson Yarbrough were absent.

According to Maywood Village Manager Willie Norfleet, Jr., most trustees stated ahead of time that they’d be absent.

But some of the night’s proceedings, such as public presentations by Union Pacific Railroad officials and the Maywood Fire Department, went ahead.

Without a quorum, or the minimum number of trustees required to be in attendance in order to conduct village business, trustees were required to sit in the audience during public presentations and could not speak in their official capacities as trustees. The village manager facilitated the meeting. VFP