Amtrak and Metra have announced a combined $29 million construction project to improve their shared station in south suburban Homewood.
The project to revitalize the nearly 100-year-old station will continue through spring 2022 and will be paid for with federal, state and local funds. Amtrak is using $15 million it receives to help it comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Metra is using: more than $9 million from the Chicago Metropolitan Agency on Planning and the Federal Transit Administration; $585,000 from Homewood; and $300,000 from Cook County. Metra’s contribution also includes $4 million of its own money.
Amtrak plans to replace the station stairway and add an enclosed ramp, allowing all customers access to the tunnel under the tracks to both the Amtrak and Metra train platforms. Other disability improvements for the former Illinois Central Railroad station include building a level path between the building, parking, and stairway to the tunnel.
Metra will replace the existing station structure on the east side of the tracks, renovate the 1911 tunnel and create accessible paths from both ends of the tunnel. The 109-year-old tunnel will also be waterproofed and provided with upgraded lighting so it can continue to connect the residential community with the downtown retail district.
Three daily Amtrak trains and more than 40 Metra trains typically serve the Homewood station, though Amtrak and Metra services have been reduced due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a written statement, Cook County board president Toni Preckwinkle said the project has the power to benefit the business community, while also “enhancing the quality of life and economic opportunities” for Cook County residents.
Homewood Mayor Rich Hofeld and Illinois Rep. Robin Kelly also voiced gratitude for the project.
Metra CEO Jim Derwinski called the partnership an exciting step forward for the company’s relationship with Amtrak, Homewood, Cook County and the Chicago Metropolitan Agency on Planning.
“To truly serve a community, public transportation must be accessible to everyone and this multi-modal project will improve access for all who work and live in Homewood to Metra, Pace and Amtrak services while providing a modern and welcoming gateway to the community,” he said in a written statement.