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updated: 4/23/2014 12:07 PM

Downtown Libertyville braces for rail crossing work

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  • Busy Milwaukee Avenue in downtown Libertyville is scheduled to be closed for five days beginning May 2 so Metra can replace the commuter rail crossing.

       Busy Milwaukee Avenue in downtown Libertyville is scheduled to be closed for five days beginning May 2 so Metra can replace the commuter rail crossing.
    Mick Zawislak | Staff Photographer

  • Crews work Tuesday along the Metra tracks east of Milwaukee Avenue in downtown Libertyville. The rail agency plans to replace the entire crossing and Milwaukee Avenue will be closed at that point for five days, starting May 2.

       Crews work Tuesday along the Metra tracks east of Milwaukee Avenue in downtown Libertyville. The rail agency plans to replace the entire crossing and Milwaukee Avenue will be closed at that point for five days, starting May 2.
    Mick Zawislak | Staff Photographer

 
 

Traffic will be detoured around downtown Libertyville for about five days beginning May 2 while emergency repairs are made to the Metra commuter rail crossing at Milwaukee Avenue.

The village and businesses are preparing for the latest traffic disruption, which essentially will limit the areas north and south of the tracks to local traffic.

Milwaukee Avenue in that area carries 25,400 vehicles per day, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation.

"We're expecting lower sales. We're trying to get the word out that people can reroute and still get to us," said Michelle Chapley, co-owner of Mischief's Brewing coffee shop south of the tracks on Milwaukee Avenue.

Excessive wear, possibly because of the severe winter, is requiring a complete replacement of the crossing, including removal of asphalt, rubber panels, rails, ties and ballast, according to Metra.

The five-day closure is necessary because of the amount of work and the need to allow the rebuilt section to settle before the project can be completed.

"It's definitely an emergency. They've made that very clear," said John Heinz, the village's public works director. The work will cost $175,000 to $200,000.

The village has sent email notices to businesses and is spreading the word through the MainStreet downtown group and GLMV Chamber of Commerce. The village also plans to use its website and social media, and is expected to alert residents through its reverse 911 system.

On the north side of the tracks, Tom Maegdlin, co-owner of Hansa Coffee Roasters, said he didn't think the work would deter core patrons, who have been fiercely loyal since the business opened last October.

"I don't think that will stop them," he said.

But would-be customers already have been alerted, and an alternate route to the Winchester Road or Route 137/Route 176/Butterfield Road detour around downtown has been suggested via Facebook.

"What is frustrating is the lack of notice and lack of accommodation for non-motorists," Maegdlin said.

Businesses have been told neither vehicles nor pedestrians will be allowed to cross. That theoretically limits customers coming from the train station and disrupts the walking routines of those who live nearby.

Metra said an unusual amount of wear, particularly on the rubber and rail, was found last week during a routine track inspection. As a precaution, trains have been ordered to pass the crossing at no more than 30 mph.

That isn't expected to have a big effect, as trains now are slowing to stop at the station just west of Milwaukee Avenue or are leaving the station and are not yet at full speed.

"However, if repairs to the crossing are not completed, further wear could result in a greater speed reduction," according to Metra.

Riders of train No. 2159, the last outbound train on the weekday schedule on the Milwaukee North Line, will have to take a shuttle bus between Lake Forest and Libertyville early Saturday, May 3. Other trains may be delayed up to 10 minutes during the project, the rail agency said.

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