Metra counting losses and blessings in flood

  • A tree blocks Milwaukee District North Line tracks just west of Libertyville July 12 after storms.

    A tree blocks Milwaukee District North Line tracks just west of Libertyville July 12 after storms. Courtesy of Metra

Updated 7/19/2017 8:10 PM

The cost of washed-out Metra tracks plus crews working overtime to get trains moving after a devastating flood last week are being calculated, officials said Wednesday.

The Milwaukee District North Line in Lake County was shut down about 6 a.m. July 12, and some trains on the Union Pacific North Line were snarled as heavy rains overflowed rivers and water seeped into houses and businesses and onto rails.


Service on the Milwaukee District resumed in time for the afternoon rush.

"These things come in threes," Executive Director Don Orseno said in explaining the railroad was hit with flooding, washouts and downed trees.

"When water builds up (on the tracks), it finds a hole in the embankment and starts to wash out the whole substructure," Orseno said at a Wednesday meeting. "If you don't catch that right away, you can have catastrophic results.

"And just when you thought we had it bad, we got trees down -- not just in one location but several locations on the Milwaukee side and the UP side."

Metra crews found switch machines underwater in several locations and were able to cut the power to the equipment to prevent engine failures, saving about $60,000 in replacements, Orseno said.

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Tallies of the overtime, damage and extra materials will be available in August.

"When you have a situation like that," Orseno said, "you need to get the service back as quick as you can so our customers can get back and forth to work."

At least six trees toppled onto tracks in Lake and McHenry counties, while tracks were awash near Libertyville and Route 120 on the Milwaukee Line.

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