Monday, April 10, 2017

Metra launches 2017 construction program

Written by  Stuart Chirls, Senior Editor, Railway Age
Map showing some of Metra's projects planned for 2017. Map showing some of Metra's projects planned for 2017. Metra

Chicago's Metra and its railroad partners announced plans to begin $216 million worth of infrastructure investments in 2017.


The agency said construction is expected to begin this week.

"We're extremely pleased that three very significant improvement projects are moving forward this year," said Metra Executive Director and Chief Executive Don Orseno, in a release. "We plan to take full advantage of the construction season by making improvements where we can with our limited funding. Our goal is to be as efficient as possible with the resources we have and limit the impact of construction activity on our customers."

Improvements are planned for 29 of Metra's 241 stations this year, including five stations along the BNSF Line to Aurora, Ill.

Along the Metra Electric Line, the McCormick Place Station will receive upgrades to the platform, waiting areas, signage and lighting. A $5.5-million project that started in 2016 to replace platforms, the elevator, stairs and other facilities at the Calumet Station will continue, and a $4.8-million project to replace the street-level depot, stairways and the north platform at the Hazel Crest Station will get underway.

Metra will also finish rehabilitation and repair work started in 2016 at the Kensington/115th Street, West Pullman and Millennium stations. Rehabilitation work will start this year at the 27th Street, 147th Street, Riverdale, Harvey and University Park stations. Projects may include repair or replacement of station elements such as platform deck boards, warming houses, staircases and lighting.

Metra and its railroad partners plan to replace approximately 57,000 railroad ties this year. BNSF will replace about 8,000 ties on one of its main tracks between Lisle and Aurora. In addition, BNSF will replace switches and switch heaters in Cicero and Naperville. New rail will be installed on curves located just east of Chicago Union Station. Metra will replace thousands of ties on the Milwaukee West Line and Metra Electric Line, along with track repairs in Metra-controlled rail yards throughout the system.

On the Union Pacific Northwest Line, UP will replace six crossovers at the Deval interlocking between the Des Plaines and Cumberland stations over a three-day period beginning April 27.

On the UP West Line, about eight miles of third track will be added along the only two remaining double-track segments. The third track will be constructed through two separate projects that together will cost more than $100 million beginning in 2017 and continuing through 2019. Union Pacific will also replace up to 8,000 ties across its three lines as part of its general maintenance program.

Improvements are planned for 21 bridges across the Metra system and include projects on the BNSF, Milwaukee West, Rock Island, UP North and UP Northwest lines.

Construction is planned to begin in the fall along the Milwaukee West Line on a $34-million project to replace a 130-year-old single-track bridge over the Fox River in Elgin with a double-track bridge. Canadian Pacific is contributing some of the funding.

Along the Rock Island Line, Metra will rehabilitate three existing bridges and remove and replace the 57th Street bridge with a new concrete access road bridge.

On the UP North Line, Metra will begin a 30-month phase of a project to replace 11 bridges on the North Side.

Metra and its railroad partners plan to make improvements to 29 road crossings system-wide in 2017, on BNSF and Metra routes.

Ahead of the federally-mandated implementation of Positive Train Control, Metra said it is upgrading signal and communications systems on each of the lines it controls for compatibility with PTC. Similar work is also being performed across the lines controlled and operated by its freight partners.


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