Metra is replacing the bridge that carries the Milwaukee District North Line over Milwaukee Avenue near Kilbourne Avenue with a new bridge with new abutments. Grayland Station, just south of the bridge, is being rebuilt with longer platforms, new public address equipment, visual information signs, shelters with on-demand heat on each side, new lighting and new stairs and ramps, making it fully ADA-compliant.
The new bridge will improve operations and reliability by reducing delays associated with slow zones, track closures or trains canceled for maintenance and repair work on the existing bridge. Replacing the aging bridge is critical because it provides a vital link in the regional and national rail network. If it were to be taken out of service, there would be no viable alternate route. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the bridge was used by 61 Metra trains, 17 Amtrak trains and several Canadian Pacific and Wisconsin Southern freight trains each weekday.
The improvements to the Grayland Station include longer platforms, new public address equipment, visual information signs, shelters with on-demand heat on each side, new lighting and new stairs and ramps, making it fully ADA-compliant. A temporary Grayland Station, south of the current station, is being used to continue service to the area during the project.
As of October 2023, the project is approximately 56% complete. A temporary bridge has been built and the tracks have been shifted to the temporary alignment to make room for the construction of a new bridge in the old alignment and the inbound station. Foundations for the new bridge are complete, and the abutments and pier to carry the bridge over Milwaukee Avenue are under construction. The new precast retaining walls north and south of the bridge are approximately 50% complete and work is beginning on the ramps, stairs, and foundations for the new inbound station.
The new bridge will be done in about November 2023, but there will still be work to do: we have to shift hundreds of feet of railroad tracks from the temporary bridge to the new bridge and then once the tracks are shifted the temporary bridge will need to be demolished and the street and sidewalk will be restored around the temporary bridge foundations.
We anticipate Milwaukee Ave. will remain closed until the end of 2023. If Milwaukee Ave. needs to be closed longer than the end of the year in 2023, Metra will notify the community well in advance.
Work on the station will continue to the end of 2024.
The project is being funded with $13.1 million from the Federal Transit Administration, $17.8 million from the Federal Railroad Administration, $2.3 million from Canadian Pacific, and $2.9 million in other Metra funding.
Construction, which is being done by IHC Construction Companies of Elgin, began in 2021 and is expected to be complete at the end of 2024.