Metra Outlines Station, Track, Signaling Improvement Plans

Written by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor, Railway Age
(Metra Photograph, via Twitter)
(Metra Photograph, via Twitter)

Metra on May 2 detailed its construction projects for 2023, which include station improvements valued at $119.5 million, or nearly a quarter of the Chicagoland commuter railroad’s annual capital spending for the year; platform repairs and replacements; and track and signaling system renewals.

Construction work got under way the first week of April and will continue through the fall, weather permitting, according to Metra. Most work will be performed during off-peak hours and on weekends.

Station, Platform Improvements

The Metra Electric Community Initiative is among the commuter railroad’s major station projects. This multi-year plan will improve 13 stations on the line. Work is continuing this year at the 147th St. Station and scheduled to start at six more: Homewood, 95th, 79th, 87th, 103rd and Millennium (South Water entrance). Each project, Metra said, will completely renew station facilities and focus on accessibility features, such as elevators.

Metra is also planning to replace the existing wooden platforms at the 83rd Street and 67th Street stations, and the stairs and retaining walls at 27th Street. Additional station projects are being planned for 2024 at the Van Buren, 59th-60th St./University of Chicago, 111th Street/Pullman and Harvey stations.

According to Metra, construction is ongoing at two new stations: the Peterson Ridge Station on the Union Pacific North Line, which is slated for completion this year, and the Auburn Park Station on the Rock Island Line, which scheduled to wrap up next year.

On Metra’s Milwaukee District North Line, the Grayland Station is being rebuilt in conjunction with the replacement of a 124-year-old bridge over Milwaukee Avenue. Metra is also finishing the rehab of Blue Island Vermont Street on the Rock Island Line, and the new inbound platform and shelters at Ravenswood on the UP North Line.

Metra said that preserving the historic station facilities system-wide is also a part of its 2023 capital program, with major rehab projects set to begin on the 132-year-old Kenilworth Station on the UP North Line and the 97-year-old LaGrange Road Station on the BNSF Line.

Platform replacement and repair projects are scheduled at Grayslake on the Milwaukee District North Line, Wood Dale and Big Timber on the Milwaukee District West Line, Brainerd on the Rock Island Line, Oak Lawn/Patriot on the SouthWest Service, Kenosha and Clybourn on the UP North Line, and Kedzie on the UP West Line.

Other station improvements planned in 2023 include the addition of 340 new bicycle parking spaces across Metra, with projects at 17 stations. Metra said it will also be focusing on smaller ADA accessibility projects, such as replacing worn tactile edging on its platforms and improving pathways at station facilities.

Track, Signaling Improvements

“Maintaining reliable and safe on-time performance requires continual renewal of track and signal systems,” Metra said. In 2023, the railroad plans to replace nearly 210,000 ties, at least 7,500 feet of rail, and 24 crossings. Also planned: two separate projects to test technologies that “monitor the performance of safety equipment” at rail crossings, Metra said, “with the goal of using that data to proactively identify maintenance needs.”

Many these projects would not be possible without the support of the Chicago area’s congressional delegation, which helped secure $204.1 million in competitive federal grants for projects in 2022, including $86.6 million for station projects; the state of Illinois; Cook County; and local communities, Metra said.

“Clean, modern, and accessible passenger facilities are an integral part of a good customer experience and create a welcoming gateway to a community,” Metra Executive Director/CEO Jim Derwinski said. “For that reason, our capital plans over the next several years are focused on investments in stations across the Metra system.”

Following is the list of Metra projects planned for 2023:


Metra Electric Line
•    Harvey –147th Street/Sibley – Ongoing work to rehab station.
•    Chicago – Millennium Station South Water Street – Rehab of the station facilities and access points.
•    Homewood – Rehab of station facilities and access tunnel.
•    Chicago – 79th Street, Chatham – Rehab of station and platforms.
•    Chicago – 87th Street, Woodruff – Rehab of station and platforms.
•    Chicago – 95th Street, Chicago State University – Rehab of station and platforms.
•    Chicago – 103rd Street, Rosemoor Station – Rehab of station and platforms.
•    Chicago – 83rd St – Platform replacement.
•    Chicago – 67th St – Platform replacement.
•    Chicago – 27th Street – Stair and retaining wall repairs.

Milwaukee District North Line
•    Chicago – Grayland – Ongoing project to replace station and platforms.
•    Grayslake – Platform replacement.

Milwaukee District West Line
•    Wood Dale – Platform replacement.
•    Elgin – Big Timber – Platform replacement.

Rock Island Line
•    Chicago – Brainerd – Platform replacement.
•    Chicago – Auburn Park – Ongoing work to construct new station.
•    Blue Island – Vermont Street – Ongoing work to rehab historic station.
•    Chicago – 103rd St Washington Heights – Complete rehab of depot and ADA access improvements.

SouthWest Service
•    Oak Lawn Patriot – Platform replacement.

UP North Line
•    Chicago – Clybourn – Platform improvement.
•    Chicago – Peterson Ridge – Ongoing work to construct new station.
•    Chicago – Ravenswood – Ongoing work to replace station facility and platforms.
•    Kenilworth – Rehab and upgrade facilities at historic station.
•    North Chicago – Rehab of depot interior.
•    Kenosha – Platform replacement.

UP West Line
•    Chicago – Kedzie – Platform replacement.
•    La Fox – Repave driveway to station parking lot.

•    LaGrange – LaGrange Road – Rehab and upgrade of station facilities.


Metra Electric Line
•    Chicago – 78th Street (South Chicago Branch).
•    Chicago – Jeffrey Boulevard (South Chicago Branch).
•    Chicago – Stewart Avenue (Blue Island Branch).
•    Chicago – Wallace Avenue (Blue Island Branch).

Milwaukee District North Line
•    Lake Forest – Everett Road.
•    Bannockburn – Half Day Road.
•    Niles – Touhy Avenue.
•    Round Lake – Hart Road.

Milwaukee District West Line
•    Franklin Park – Edgington Street.
•    Itasca – Prospect Avenue.
•    Roselle – Rodenburg Road.

Rock Island Line
•    Chicago – Ashland Avenue, Beverly Branch.
•    Tinley Park – 66th Court.
•    Chicago – Prospect Avenue, Beverly Branch.

SouthWest Service
•    Will County – Maple Street.
•    Oak Lawn – Central Avenue.

UP Northwest Line
•    Barrington – Main/Cook Street.
•    Des Plaines – Graceland Avenue.
•    Ridgefield – Country Club Drive.

UP West Line
•    Villa Park – Villa Avenue.
•    Elmhurst – Poplar Avenue.

•    Westmont – Cass Avenue.
•    Riverside – Cowley Road.
•    Hinsdale – Monroe Street.


Metra Electric Line
•    Chicago – Replace 38,000 ties between Adams Street and 111th Street.
•    Chicago – Replace 900 ties between Randolph Street and 11th Place in Chicago.
•    Chicago – Replace 2,000 feet of rail to fix worn curves at the north end of McCormick Place.

Milwaukee District North Line
•    Lake Forest – Install new crossovers.
•    Libertyville – Replace 2,500 feet of rail to fix worn curves.
•    Rondout – Install two turnouts and new siding track.

Rock Island Line
•    Chicago – Replace 14,000 ties between Englewood and LaSalle Street.
•    New Lenox – Replace 3,000 feet of rail near Cedar Road to fix worn curves.

UP North Line
•    Chicago to Highland Park – Replace 41,000 ties.

UP Northwest Line
•    Chicago to Harvard – Replace 116,000 ties.

UP West Line
•    West Chicago to Geneva – Project to add third track continues between West Chicago and Geneva.

•    Westmont – Replace platform ties at the station.


Metra Electric Line
•    Chicago – Ongoing project to repair bridge columns.

Milwaukee District North Line
•    Chicago – Work continues to replace the bridge over Milwaukee Avenue near the Grayland Station.

Rock Island Line
•    Chicago – Lift bridge over freight tracks between 78th and 79th Street as part of the Auburn Park Station project.


Metra Electric Line
•    Chicago – Install remote monitoring system at 14 grade crossings along the South Chicago Branch to quickly detect anomalies and repair critical safety devices.

Milwaukee District North Line
•    Lake Forest – Ongoing signal grade crossing improvements.
•    Rondout – Finish signal renewal project.

Milwaukee District West Line
•    Hanover Park – Install signalized pedestrian crossing.

SouthWest Service
•    Mokena – SMART crossing pilot project.

“Please note that timing of the projects listed may change and, when warranted, projects may be added to or removed from this list,” Metra reported.

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