Parking shrinks while Naperville Metra station rehabbed
Metra's $2.4 million plan to replace the boarding platforms at the downtown Naperville train station would temporarily take away some 80 parking spots at one of the busiest commuter stops on the system.
Naperville officials were warned about the potential parking loss in a memo from staff earlier this week. The work is scheduled to begin in a month and continue through the end of the year.
Councilman Doug Krause complained that Metra had not coordinated enough with the city to warn commuters.
"They haven't notified the public about what's coming down the track," he said. "People should know about this ahead of time, not at the last minute."
But Metra spokesman Michael Gillis said the commuter rail agency will roll out a communication plan to users in the coming days. Gillis said the platforms are more than 20 years old and in need of replacement. The work will be done in stages so that commuters will always have some place to board the trains.
Gillis said the construction firm contracted to do the work will occupy about 80 parking spaces in the lot for staging the maintenance tasks. That represents about 5 percent of the station's 1,500 commuter parking spaces.
Parking is at such a premium around the station that the waiting list for spaces in one of the lots is 10 years, while the second lot has a waiting time of six years, city officials said.
The city will open some parking stalls at the nearby children's museum in the interim and offer free Pace bus passes to commuters willing to forgo parking privileges until the construction is over, said Karyn Robles, Naperville's transportation and planning team leader.
"Commuters would turn in their parking permit and not pay for it during the project and they'd get it back when it's over, but in the meantime we'd offer monthly Pace passes," she said. "It's a great option for people who live near a Pace route."
Bicycle and motorcycle parking would also be affected by the construction project, Robles said. However, Gillis said Metra is still coordinating alternatives.
Krause also raised concerns about handicapped accessibility during construction, but Gillis said Metra "will do everything we can to maintain access to the platforms."
The project calls for replacing the platforms with prefabricated slabs that will both last longer and be easier to replace in the future, Gillis said. Almost two-thirds of the cost of the project is coming from a state public works bonding program, he added. Walsh Construction won the contract for the job.
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