Chicago Metra Launches $332 Million Construction Plan for 2024

Chicago’s commuter rail system, Metra, has announced a comprehensive list of construction projects planned for 2024.

This programme includes major projects such as the replacement of ageing bridges on the UP North Line, as well as track, electrical and signal upgrades on the Metra Electric line. Meanwhile, the plan also includes numerous smaller infrastructure improvements across all of Metra’s 11 lines.

Together, these projects aim to ensure Metra customers will continue to benefit from safe and reliable services.

Metra's commuter rail service in the Chicago metropolitan area
Metra’s commuter rail service in the Chicago metropolitan area
Metra CEO/Executive Director Jim Derwinski said:

“We plan to take full advantage of the construction season to address projects big and small across the railroad. Thanks to our leaders in Washington and Springfield, Metra has received significant financial support in recent years to help us begin to address a backlog of critical capital projects that will benefit our riders for years to come.”

Metra’s 2024 capital programme allocates 332.4 million USD for construction projects. This includes:

  • 81.6 million USD for station and parking improvements
  • 22 million USD for track maintenance
  • 140.7 million USD for bridge projects
  • 6.4 million USD for rail crossing replacements
  • 66.2 million USD for signal electrical and communications maintenance and upgrades

Station Improvements

35 of Metra’s 242 stations will undergo improvements in 2024. Specifically, along the Metra Electric Line, an ongoing multiyear initiative aims to enhance stations and increase accessibility.

In addition, select platforms will be replaced along the Milwaukee West Line, the Rock Island Line, the UP Northwest Line, and the UP West Line. What’s more, Peterson/Ridge Station on the UP North Line is expected to open this spring.

Meanwhile, rehabilitation projects are scheduled for stations at 107th and 115th Street on the Rock Island Line’s Beverly Branch, as well as LaGrange Road on the BNSF Line.

Plans also include the installation of new bike racks at 10 stations across the Metra system, along with repainting stations along the Blue Island Branch of the Metra Electric Line.

Track Improvements

Metra and its partners plan to replace approximately 129,000 railroad ties this year. On the Rock Island Line, 32,000 ties will be replaced, while another 20,000 will be replaced on the SouthWest Service. Additionally, 40,000 ties will be replaced on the UP North Line and 37,000 will be replaced on the UP Northwest Line.

Preparation is also underway for a fourth track on the Metra Electric Line and for connecting the Milwaukee West Line to the Union Pacific Belvidere subdivision for the Rockford extension.

In addition, work continues on the UP West third main project to eliminate a bottleneck between West Chicago and Geneva. Metra will also replace worn rails at various locations across the system.

Road Crossing Improvements

Metra and its partners aim to improve 35 road crossings systemwide in 2024. This includes four crossings on the Rock Island Line, two on the SouthWest Service, three on the Milwaukee District North Line and three on the Milwaukee District West Line.

Additionally, five crossings on the Metra Electric Line and five on the BNSF Line will undergo replacement, along with upgrades to pedestrian gates at select locations. Thirteen crossings on the Union Pacific lines will also be replaced.

Bridge Improvements

Later this year, Metra will commence a significant project to rebuild 11 bridges dating back 120 years between Fullerton and Addison on the UP North Line. This project will include replacing 4 miles of track structure and 1.75 miles of retaining walls.

Additionally, Metra will finish construction on a new bridge over Milwaukee Avenue in Chicago near the Grayland Station on the Milwaukee District North Line.

Ageing bridges at Ingleside on the Milwaukee District North Line and at Stony Creek in Chicago Ridge on the SouthWest Service will also be replaced. Furthermore, rehabilitation work is planned for the Hickory Creek Bridge on the Rock Island Line in Joliet.

Signals and Communication

In 2024, Metra’s Signal Department will replace the 123-year-old 16th Street Tower on the Rock Island Line. It will also upgrade infrastructure and install new control points along the Metra Electric Line for the NICTD South Shore expansion.

In addition, signal upgrades are planned for the Milwaukee District, including a project to upgrade signal systems between Canal Street and the A-2 interlocking in Chicago. Signal upgrades will also be completed at Lake Forest on the Milwaukee District North Line.

Meanwhile, Metra will continue its technology upgrades at roadway crossings, installing SMART crossing tech for remote monitoring and proactive maintenance. SMART crossing upgrades are planned at specific locations on the Rock Island, Milwaukee District North, and Metra Electric South Chicago Branch lines. Ticket vending machine installations and electronic signage updates will also continue systemwide.

What’s more, the Electrical Department on the Metra Electric Line will focus on substations at Jackson, Matteson, and Homewood, renewing power feed and AC distribution infrastructure, and supporting the expansion of NICTD’s South Shore Line service.

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