Milwaukee Avenue's Reopening Delayed Again As Metra Misses Another Deadline (2024)

OLD IRVING PARK — The reopening of a Milwaukee Avenue intersection on the Northwest Side has been delayed again as a Metra station rebuild runs even further behind schedule.

Milwaukee Avenue between Kilbourn and Kenneth avenues will remain closed until the end of July, missing an early July timeline to reopen the thoroughfare, Metra spokesperson Michael Gillis said.

Metra closed the intersectionin September 2022to speed up constructionon the Grayland station, 3729 N. Kilbourn Ave.,and replace its 122-year-old railroad bridge.

Milwaukee Avenue wasoriginally supposed to reopen in December 2022, but Metra officials pushed back the timeline multiple times. During a May 28 virtual community meeting, Metra officials assured the nearly 60 attendees Milwaukee Avenue would be open by July 3.

But Ald. Ruth Cruz (30th) said Metra informed her last week that the July 3 deadline will not be met. Cruz said she was told the new reopening date is July 22.

“It really doesn’t mean much at this point,” Cruz said. “Nothing will reassure us that they will be done by then.”

The most recent delay was caused by multiple “unforeseen ground obstructions,” Gillis said in an email to Block Club. Those obstructions include a utility pipe, concrete structures and an AT&T duct, Gillis said.

“The contractor and Metra had been working to clear issues, work overtime and issue design clarifications to try to open the roadway on time,” Gillis wrote. “As issues were identified in June, each item added to the schedule risk until all the issues proved to be too much to recover enough schedule time to open on time.”

Metra is working with Elgin-basedIHC Construction Companies.

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Far Northwest Side neighbors have complained for months about the noise, increased traffic caused by the project and its severely delayed timeline. Metra responded to residents’ frustrations by creating aproject websiteto provide construction updates.

“Why has this taken so long? Our kids both spend an extra five minutes twice a day to get home/to work/to school. They lost 12 days of their lives over this construction!” Maria Pollock commented in the Zoom chat during the May 28 virtual meeting.

Cruz said the project should have been done a year ago.

“We understand that things don’t always go as planned, but that’s what project managers are there for; they’re the ones that analyze the risk,” Cruz said. “When it’s been more than a year [behind schedule], it’s hard to be understanding.”

Metra’s current street closure permit expires July 3. The commuter rail agency has requested to extend the permit to the end of July, said Erica Schroeder, Chicago Department of Transportation spokesperson. The extension request is under review.

The project is about 80 percent complete, according to the Metra project website. Crews finished the new rail bridge in March.

Metra had to erect a temporary bridge to keep trains running while the new bridge was built. Tracks were moved from the temporary bridge to the new bridge in April. Demolition of the temporary bridge was completed June 6, Gillis said.

The street, sidewalks and bike lanes that run under the bridge are being rebuilt. Street lighting will also have to be installed before Milwaukee Avenue can reopen, Gillis said.

Crews will 6 a.m.-6:30 p.m. daily to avoid anymore delays, Gillis said.

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The Grayland station isbeing rebuiltwith longer platforms, new public address equipment,visual information signs,shelters with on-demand heat on each side, lighting and stairs and ramps to make it fully ADA-compliant.

The new bridge is supposed to improve train reliability by reducing delays from slow zones and track closures or trains canceled due to maintenance and repair work on the previous bridge, officials have said.

The $38 million project is being funded with $15 million from the Federal Transit Administration, $17.8 million from the Federal Railroad Administration, $2.3 million from Canadian Pacific and $2.9 million from Metra.

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Milwaukee Avenue's Reopening Delayed Again As Metra Misses Another Deadline (2024)

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