Metra is proposing to reconstruct and improve the 59th-60th / University of Chicago Station on the Metra Electric Main Line. Improvements will include reconstruction of all four headhouses, reconstruction of the 59th Street depot, ADA access to the platforms, platform amenities, bridge improvements, and reopening and reconstructing the 60th Street depot.
Metra does not own the full width of the embankment. Metra’s four tracks and stations are on the western portion of the embankments. The eastern portion of the embankment and the two easternmost tracks are owned and operated by Canadian National Railway (CN). Metra’s project improvements both on top of the embankment and under the bridge will occur on the west side only.
The project area is illustrated in the map below.
Study Area Map
This project will modernize the existing station at 59th Street and reopen the station entrance at 60th Street. The existing boarding platforms can only be accessed by stairs from street level and do not currently meet the standards of ADA accessibility. The 60th Street depot entrance has been closed for almost 45 years and is unsafe for occupation. The entrance to the platforms from the 60th Street entrance is sealed with masonry and the track-level access is sealed with wood and fencing.
In addition to providing access to the University of Chicago, this station will serve as a gateway for public transportation to the proposed Obama Presidential Library, which is about 1.5 blocks to the east. Although the new station will support anticipated ridership increases as a result of the new Obama Presidential Library, the impetus of the project was the University of Chicago. The University of Chicago has several new facilities planned or completed south of 60th Street, including the Logan Center for Arts, Woodlawn Residential Commons, and the Rubenstein Forum.
The existing conditions, coupled with an anticipated increase in ridership due to University of Chicago expansion projects and the construction of the Barack Obama Presidential Center nearby, justify the need for improved, accessible infrastructure and the reopening of the 60th Street entrance.
The total estimated cost of the project is $52.7 million. The project has been included in Metra’s 2021-2025 Capital Program. The following capital funding sources are currently allocated for its implementation:
- $2.5 million from the University of Chicago
- $2.4 million from FTA Formula Funds
- $18 million from Rebuild Illinois Bond Funds
Future federal and state funding sources will be identified to complete the project.
Scope of Work
The proposed project includes extensive work at both the 59th Street and 60th Street depots and platforms; the scope of work at each station is similar. The scope of work is divided into four work areas: headhouse and platform-level improvements, street-level depot reconstruction, ADA access and circulation improvements, and bridge improvements. The improvements under each of these areas is described below.
Headhouse & Platform Level Improvements
The two island platforms and the existing 59th Street headhouses will be removed and replaced. Two new headhouses for the reopened 60th Street entrance will be constructed. The platform design will include a windbreak and new warming houses. Stairways, platform lighting and station signage will be replaced on both platforms. Security cameras will be installed at the platform level.
Street-Level Depot Reconstruction
The 60th Street entrance will be reopened. The street-level depots at both 59th Street and 60th Street will be completely reconstructed due to their advanced state of deterioration. As a part of the reconstruction of both depots, the ground-level lobby area will be expanded under the bridge to accommodate an enlarged waiting area, new stairs to the platform, and elevators. The footprint of both depots will be expanded under the viaducts onto part of the sidewalk area, with the innermost set of columns to be incorporated into the station area; The columns will be restored, repairing flaking concrete and repainted white.
The new depot areas will also include LED lighting, murals which recognize the historical significance of the area, ticket vending machines, and wayfinding information to direct passengers to local destinations.
ADA Access & Circulation Improvements
Four new staircases will be relocated from their current location and installed to provide access to the platform. The relocation is needed, in part, to accommodate the construction of elevators and elevator lobbies. One elevator is planned at each end of the two platforms for the 59th Street entrance and the 60th Street entrance. The depots include other circulation modifications, such as accessible door widths with button-activated openers, necessary to meet the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Metra is planning minor bridge improvements at the 59th-60th/University of Chicago Station. Metra will waterproof the bridge surface under our four tracks to prevent water leakage and potential damage to the new depots. Also planned is concrete repair work to fix cracked concrete columns and to restore them to their original round shape, to repaint the columns white, and to improve the lighting near the depot entrances. The concrete bridge’s west façade balustrade and ornamental panels will remain in place and painted white.
Metra is coordinating with the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) to improve pedestrian access to the station and between the major destinations in the area. However, the extent of Metra’s pedestrian improvements will be limited to the station area and beneath the bridges. These improvements will include improved sidewalks, wayfinding signage within the station, and ADA curb ramps.
This project is currently in the design and planning stage. An environmental review process is being conducted in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act. The environmental approval and design process will continue in 2022. Construction is expected to begin in 2023, with completion expected in 2025.
Environmental Reporting and Documentation
To evaluate the environmental impacts of the project, Metra and the FTA are preparing a documented Categorical Exclusion pursuant to 23 CFR 771.118 (c)(8). As part of its responsibilities under 36 CFR § 800 – Protection of Historic Properties and the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), Metra and the FTA have initiated a Section 106 Consultation Process for the project to consider the effects of our undertakings on historic properties. This process involves efforts to identify historic properties potentially affected by the undertaking, assess the effects, and seek ways to avoid, minimize or mitigate any adverse effects. The environmental and historic review process is expected to be completed in early 2023.
Click below for the:
Determination of Eligibility Report
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