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Second phase of Metra’s Ravenswood station construction plans unveiled

Rendering of inbound Metra station on the east side of the tracks.

Nearly three years after Metra opened its outbound Ravenswood station, the transit agency unveiled its 30-month construction plan for the station’s inbound track.

Metra originally announced improvements to the Ravenswood station and UP-North bridges in 2010. At the time, officials gave an anticipated completion date of 2018 for work on both sides of the track.

Now construction for the inbound track and platform is now expected to run at least through the end of 2020.

Currently, train stops in both directions, but on the inbound side, there’s just a bare bones platform.

At the first of two public forums hosted Tuesday by Ald. Ameya Pawar’s (47th) office, Joe Ott, Metra’s director of construction, told residents and business owners the delay between phases was due to ensuring that the engineering was in place and waiting for federal funds before the agency could send Phase II out to bid.

“The money’s there,” Ott assured some skeptical residents of the $32.7 million project.

Like the outbound station on the west side of the tracks at Lawrence Avenue, the inbound station and platform will have shelters, improved lighting, benches, on-demand heaters and accessible ramps, Ott said.

The Ravenswood project will also include the replacement of 11 bridges on the east side of the Union Pacific North Line between Grace and Balmoral, replicating work completed in 2015 on the track’s west side.

An unused rail “bay,” out of commission since the 1970s, will also be removed. New track, matching the one laid on the outbound side, will be installed, completing the conversion of this former three-track stretch to two tracks.

Work on the inbound station is expected to begin as early as February, according to Chris D’Amico, project manager with IHC Construction, which won the bid for construction contract.

Ott said there would be no disruption to Metra’s train schedule during construction. A section of parking on Ravenswood Avenue, between Lawrence and Leland avenues, will be cordoned off during much of the work, but the flow of traffic will largely be maintained, D’Amico said.

Judlau Contracting is handling the replacement of the bridges, which date back to the 1890s and have reached the end of their useful life.

Dan Martinez, project manager with Judlau, said construction would begin in March, with crews starting north at the Balmoral bridge and working their way south.

Residents should expect significant closures of east-west streets as each bridge is rebuilt.

Still, the overall impact of Phase II won’t have nearly the same scope as Phase I, which included major embankment work and the construction of a retention wall on the track’s west side, said Pawar’s chief of staff Jim Poole.

Martinez acknowledged that landscaping improvements made by residents along the east embankment are bound to be affected by construction activity, which dismayed some neighbors.

Judlau representatives said they would make an effort to restore whatever had been planted.

Construction updates, including notice of street closures, will be posted to the 47th Ward website and will be included in the alderman’s weekly email newsletter, Poole said.