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$13M makeover will make Metra Electric 147th/Sibley station ADA accessible

Rendering of the rehabbed station, looking east.

Efforts to make the regional transit system fully accessible has been a long, molasses-like process. Thankfully things should be speeding up in the future thanks to the new All Stations Accessibility Program in the recently-passed federal infrastructure bill, which earmarks $1.75 billion for retrofitting older stations.

Meanwhile there was a bit of good news yesterday as Metra announced that a project is moving forward to rehab the Metra Electric District line's 147th Street/Sibley Boulevard in south-suburban Harvey. The commuter railroad's board approved the awarding of the $13 million construction contract to Elgin-based IHC Construction Companies LLC. According to Metra, this is the first major upgrade to the facility since 1989.

The rather decrepit current state of the station. Image: Google Maps
The rather decrepit current state of the station. Image: Google Maps
The rather decrepit current state of the station. Image: Google Maps

“This is an exciting time for our customers as the funds provided through the state’s Rebuild Illinois program are put to use to improve and upgrade our system,” said Metra CEO Jim Derwinski in a statement. “The 147th Street project is just one of several station projects we have planned for the Metra Electric Line that will provide [Metra] riders with modern facilities and address accessibility needs.”

The project, which is expected to take 15 months, includes replacing the existing concrete platform with a composite material that Metra says will be more durable. The existing headhouse and passenger shelters will also be replaced, and a canopy covering most of the platform area will be added. The project will also add an elevator to the station, making it accessible to wheelchair users and other people with mobility challenges.

Fantastic. I ride the Metra Electric often and this station is among quite a few that could use a complete overhaul.

— Joseph (@Joeynach) November 16, 2021

The project also includes some street-level improvements, including a new entrance with a covered staircase. The existing gravel parking area near the station entrance will be converted to a kiss-n-ride drop-off area, and "wave" bicycle racks will be installed. Metra says the makeover will also improve paths to the main parking lot on the east side of the tracks, and new lighting will be installed on the platform and along the sidewalk under the tracks.

"The city is delighted to partner with Metra on an important investment in our transportation infrastructure,” said Harvey Mayor Christopher J. Clark in a statement. “This project will enable more of our residents to safely and comfortably get to their jobs and their destinations. Furthermore, this project, in combination for longer range projects such as the new downtown Harvey Transportation Center, will jump start our efforts to 'Build a Better Harvey' for all."

IHC Construction has committed to subcontracting 25 percent of the work to POC- and women-owned firms.

The commuter railroad says that thanks to Rebuild Illinois and federal grants, we're in the midst of an "unprecedented investment in the Metra system." This includes new and rehabbed rolling stock, as well as the construction of new stations at Peterson and Ridge on the Union Pacific North line and Auburn Park on the Rock Island District line, as well as the rehabbing of existing stations and the replacement or renovation of existing bridges.

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