Glen Ellyn to Celebrate $14.4M Grant for Metra Station Project

November 25, 2019
In The News

Glen Ellyn officials and lawmakers will gather Monday to celebrate a $14.4 million infusion of federal funds into plans to build a new Metra station and a pedestrian tunnel downtown.

The village secured a major coup recently when a regional planning agency awarded the transit grant for a project lauded for its safety and accessibility improvements. Village President Diane McGinley, Glen Ellyn trustees and U.S. Rep. Sean Casten will help mark that milestone during the ceremony Monday morning at the 1960s-era train station.

"We're very appreciative that this funding is truly going to put us in a position to move the project forward," said Rich Daubert, the village's engineer.

The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning allocated the $14.4 million for reconstruction of the station site. In all, CMAP last month awarded $475 million from several federal programs across the region to be distributed between 2020 and 2024.

"That really makes this project viable," Village Manager Mark Franz said. "And Metra has pledged $3 million that was included in their budget, so that's a good percentage of the dollars we need to make it a reality."

A preliminary phase of an engineering study estimated the project could cost $20 million.

"This project is going to take a few years to get to competitive bidding," Daubert said.

Other grants on the Glen Ellyn's wist list? The village will seek Illinois Commerce Commission funding for the pedestrian underpass portion of the project. Next year, the village will ask for an Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program grant in addition to reviewing other funding opportunities, Daubert said.

The Metra station now ranks as the second-busiest on the Union Pacific West Line, but the one-story building is too small, outdated and ill-equipped to handle the growing passenger volume, officials say.

The 2,500-square-foot depot sits on Union Pacific property just south of Crescent Boulevard and Forest Avenue. But most of the commuter parking is south of the station. Pedestrians have to walk several hundred feet west to Main Street or east to Park Boulevard, where there are grade-level crossings over the tracks, a village-hired engineering firm noted in a 2017 design proposal.

But the new tunnel, just west of the new station, would eliminate those safety issues, engineers say. The underpass, with ramps on both the north and the south sides, also would improve accessibility for people who use wheelchairs or strollers and encounter obstacles such as aging stairs to the front of the station facing Crescent Boulevard.

To ease congestion around the station site, the project would reconfigure traffic patterns, designate new drop-off and pickup areas and expand bicycle parking from 92 to 200 spaces.

New enclosed warming stations, platforms and a plaza area would make the site more commuter-friendly.

The new depot -- 50% larger in capacity -- would have ADA-accessible bathrooms and more room for waiting areas.

Daubert is preparing to seek proposals from engineering firms to tackle the second phase of the engineering study. Ideally, he said he would make a design team recommendation to the village board in late March or early April.

Those efforts come as the village plans for a large-scale streetscape redesign in the central business district.

"We're really excited that between this project and then our CBD streetscape and utility project, we are just going to be dramatically improving downtown Glen Ellyn for generations to come," Daubert said.