Revamped downtown Libertyville Metra station? Delays, delays, delays

 
 
Updated 5/10/2018 7:18 AM
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  • Revised plans for a revamped Metra station in downtown Libertyville are awaiting approval.

      Revised plans for a revamped Metra station in downtown Libertyville are awaiting approval. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer, 2015

  • A rendering showing the south side of a planned Metra station renovation in downtown Libertyville.

    A rendering showing the south side of a planned Metra station renovation in downtown Libertyville. Courtesy of village of Libertyville

  • The building at the Prairie Crossing south Metra stop is a trailer that's been in use as a "temporary" station since it opened in 2004.

      The building at the Prairie Crossing south Metra stop is a trailer that's been in use as a "temporary" station since it opened in 2004. Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

Commuters on Metra's Milwaukee District North Line will have to wait awhile for a revamped station in downtown Libertyville, while plans to replace a "temporary" trailer with a permanent building at Prairie Crossing on the far northwest side of town are moving ahead.

Each will cost about $1.2 million. But it has been the high-profile downtown station to be funded largely by the village that has been vexing local officials.

Mayor Terry Weppler more than two years ago described the downtown station as ugly. Improving its look and adding restrooms has been a priority.

In fact, the village for years set aside commuter parking revenues for a station upgrade, but the plan has been ensnared by a series of events.

The big blow came last fall when the lowest of seven bids for the gateway downtown project was $2.39 million -- more than double the budgeted amount.

That sent it back to the drawing board and prompted Lake Forest developer Rick Swanson, who was contracted to design the station, to make revisions at his own cost. Swanson said the train station is a key element of the Station Square townhouse/apartment project he is proposing nearby.

"We have been done with the revised plans for months but delayed by Metra's sometimes tedious but necessary internal review process," he said Wednesday.

Metra is contributing $300,000 of the cost and has final say on the plan. The addition of a "kiss and ride" feature to the design has been the most recent snag.

"This came to us as a surprise," said Paul Kendzior, the village's public works director.

The "surprise" will involve relocating a parking lot island and other work he estimated would add about $75,000 to the cost.

"If we approve this, are we done with Metra or are we going back for more?" Weppler asked Tuesday during an update. "Is it time for me to call (Metra Chairman) Norm Carlson?"

Kendzior said he didn't think the village would be "nickeled and dimed" with change orders by Metra.

"The bigger issue is will it (low bid) be $1.2 million or will it be way out there again," he said.

Kendzior said final design approval from Metra is "close" and hoped to be able to seek bids in July. Bidders typically have a month to respond and the village will have to meet with the selected contractor before a schedule is set.

"We've got to get this thing over," Trustee Scott Adams said.

On a positive note, the Metra board on Wednesday approved a low bid of $1,189,000 from Accel Construction Services Group LLC of Chicago to build a new station at Prairie Crossing.

A trailer has served as a "temporary" station since 2004 when the stop near Harris Road and Route 137 opened.

That will be demolished and replaced with an enclosed and heated warming house. New exterior lighting, sidewalk connections, landscaping and signs also are planned.

In a separate move, the village board Tuesday approved a request to use the parking lot there for bus shuttle service for the KPMG Women's PGA Championship June 26 to July 1 at Kemper Lakes Golf Club in Kildeer.

Prairie Crossing south is the village's second commuter station on the Milwaukee North line that runs from Fox Lake to Chicago, and the third in the village.

Metra's Prairie Crossing on the North Central line from Antioch to Chicago sits about 1,200 feet away.

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