Romeoville Metra station plans back on track

Rex Robinson | 2/12/2014, 3:59 p.m.
Plans to bring a Metra train station to Romeoville are in full swing now that an agreement has been reached ...
Some Romeoville residents who travel to downtown Chicago pick up the Metra train along the Heritage line at this stop in Lockport Photo by Rex Robinson

Plans to bring a Metra train station to Romeoville are in full swing now that an agreement has been reached between the village and Canadian National Railway.

The company has signed off on the village’s plans for an at-grade crossing at the proposed new station at 135th Street and New Avenue. Previously, Canadian National wanted the village to build either an underground or above ground crossing at its tracks for commuters to access to the proposed new station.

“Canadian National owns the tracks and we have to get permission from CN in order to have a station there,” Romeoville Village Manager Steve Gulden said. “The obstacle was CN was not in favor of having an at-grade crossing. They wanted the village to go over the tracks with a bridge or under the tracks with a tunnel. Either option was extremely expensive.”

Going under the tracks was not an option due to underground oil pipelines and a relatively low water table, so the only option left was to build a pedestrian bridge over the tracks. That, according to Gulden, would have cost the village about $10 million.

After two years of negotiations with CN, the company in December agreed to allow the village to build the station with the at-grade pedestrian crossing.

Gulden credited Metra officials with facilitating meetings with CN and advocating for the at-grade crossing on the village’s behalf.

“The village is very appreciative of CN’s willingness to work with us on the challenges that were presented and we anticipate a positive relationship going forward,” Gulden said.

The village is now moving forward with preliminary designs for the station, parking lot and platforms and could break ground by late 2015 or early 2016, according to Gulden. Romeoville is building the $6.1 million Metra station with a combination of a $4.1 federal Congestion Mitigation Air Quality (CMAQ) grant and $2 million in state grant funding. The five acres needed to build the station, which will eventually include a 625-car parking lot, came from a 99-year lease agreement Romeoville has with the Citgo refinery. The station will be part of Metra’s Heritage line.

Romeoville Mayor John Noak said the station will be a great asset for the village and provide a real convenience for residents. Currently, Romeoville residents who travel downtown for work via the Heritage line have to pick up the train in either Lockport or Lemont. The Romeoville station, Noak said, will relieve parking congestion at those two Metra stops.

As planning for the new station continues, Noak said the village also is working with Metra to increase its services and number of stops along the Heritage line. The village, he added, also is working with neighboring municipalities on creating quite zones around the stations.

“There are a lot of different issues that we’re working on regionally along that Heritage corridor to enhance the whole area and that will add value for Romeoville,” Noak said.

Rex Robinson can be reached at rex@thetimesweekly.com.