With delays settled, work on two Metra stations in Libertyville back on track
Delays with new depots on Metra's North Line appear to be resolved in Libertyville
Any major snags or delays appear to be over, and work on what essentially will be two new commuter train stations in Libertyville is on track.
Both stations are on Metra's Milwaukee District North Line, but the improvement projects are independent of each other and have different completion dates, designs, features and funding sources.
Construction began last summer, but each has been delayed for a different reason and lengths of time.
The most visible project is on Milwaukee Avenue downtown. The work is considered an upgrade, although there will be little of the original structure left when the project is finished.
The other, known as Prairie Crossing, is at Harris Road and Route 137 on the far northwest side of the village and involves a building to replace a "temporary" trailer that has been in use since the stop was added to the line in 2004.
One similarity is the cost.
Last June, Metra awarded a contract of nearly $1.19 million for a permanent, fully-enclosed, heated structure to replace the trailer at Prairie Crossing.
In July, the Libertyville village board approved a bid of nearly $1.29 million to redesign, add restrooms and upgrade the downtown station. Metra is contributing $300,000 to that project, with the village paying the rest.
Each has experienced delays, but Prairie Crossing, which was supposed to have opened Jan. 24, is closer to being finished and ready to use. According to Metra, the new completion date is sometime after April 1, but work appears to be moving more quickly.
"We're on the downward slide," said Frank Trapane, superintendent for Accel Construction Service Group LLC. "It will look a lot more like a finished product on Monday (today)."
When the project originally was reviewed, the Libertyville Fire Department required the installation of a fire alarm and Metra was instructed to use its vendor to monitor it, according to spokeswoman Meg Thomas-Reile. During the holidays, Metra was informed it had to comply with fire alarm requirements from Grayslake, not Libertyville.
"This requires hiring an independent vendor for the monitoring service, and that process is now in procurement," according to Thomas-Reile.
Trapane said, barring unforeseen circumstances, he hopes to be done by mid-February. Municipal occupancy approvals would follow.
Considered a warming house, the building will not have restrooms. There are decorative trusses inside, and the lower portion of the exterior facade is of decorative stonework. The windows and doors are equipped with hurricane-proof glass, Trapane added.
The upgrade of what was considered a plain, unattractive downtown station has been on the village's to-do list for years and should already have been completed.
In fall 2017, much-higher-than-expected construction bids for what is considered a gateway project for the village prompted a redesign and new bid process. Most recently, the discovery that portions of the structure were not up to modern building codes pushed the anticipated completion from late 2018 to June 1.
"The only thing out there we saved was the original foundation and one wall. It will be, for all practical purposes, a new train station," said Rick Swanson, a Lake Forest architect who designed the station renovation and is pursuing plans for a residential development southwest of the facility.
All materials have been ordered and work continues on the roof decking, interior plumbing and electrical rough-ins, said Paul Kendzior, Libertyville's public works director.
"The good news is we're on track now. We've had no real issues," Swanson said. "We're trying to pull everything together so it begins to look like a finished product."
The station is designed to be more consistent with the character of the community, he added.