Monday, April 24, 2017

Metra, Union Pacific break ground on UP West Line track project

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Metra and Union Pacific Railroad (UP) joined state, county and local officials and members of the community in Maywood, Ill. to break ground on a $100-million project to remove two critical bottlenecks along the UP West Line.

Metra says the bottlenecks can be the source of delays for both freight and commuter trains.

"Adding these track segments will reduce the potential for delays and improve the travel experience for the 30,000 Metra riders who rely on this line each weekday," said Metra Executive Director/CEO Don Orseno. "Residents along the UP West Line will also benefit from shorter wait times at crossings and fewer freight trains idling on the tracks."

The project will add nearly eight miles of third track in the only two remaining segments between Elburn and Chicago that have two tracks. The ceremony in Maywood marked the start of construction on the first segment, a 1.8-mile section from just east of the Des Plaines River in River Forest to 25th Avenue in Melrose Park. Third track will also be added starting later this year along a 6.1-mile segment from Kress Road in West Chicago to Peck Road in Geneva.

"When completed, the third main line will provide more efficient operations for both freight and commuter customers, as well as reduce crossing wait times for local drivers," said Union Pacific Chairman, President and CEO Lance Fritz.

The project is the fourth phase of the UP West Line Improvement Project, a multi-year effort to improve the flow of rail traffic on the line while enhancing pedestrian and motorist safety. The first phase focused on safety enhancements at Metra stations, including the installation of a new "Another Train Warning System" that uses a combination of audio and visual alerts to warn pedestrians at crossings adjacent to stations that another train is approaching or present. The system was the first of its kind in the United States to be fully implemented along a rail line.

Other improvements included installing new pedestrian gates at crossings, eliminating mid-platform crossings and constructing pathways to divert pedestrian traffic to safer crossing points at the end of platforms. Phases two and three included enhancements to the signal system that enabled trains to safely operate closer together and added crossovers at Wheaton and Lombard to improve the flow of traffic by allowing trains to switch tracks to avoid congestion points.

Construction of the 1.8-mile segment is expected to take a year. Work on the 6.1-mile segment is scheduled to begin later this year and continue through 2019.

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