Geneva railroad expansion to start in 2020

  • The Union Pacific is getting closer to adding a third set of railroad tracks through Geneva.

      The Union Pacific is getting closer to adding a third set of railroad tracks through Geneva. Susan Sarkauskas | Staff Photographer

Updated 5/14/2019 8:27 AM

The construction of a third set of railroad tracks on the Union Pacific main line through Geneva will likely begin in the spring of 2020, according to the railroad.

Liisa Stark, assistant vice president of public affairs for Union Pacific, told Geneva aldermen Monday that the long-planned project just needs the purchase of a few parcels of land and a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers, which the railroad expects any day now, she said. Construction bids then would be sought this summer.


The UP and Metra agreed in 2008 to put in the third set of tracks through Geneva, as well as in spots near Elmhurst and Melrose Park. The project is estimated to cost $188 million. The eastern work should be finished by the fall, according to Stark.

Stark said Geneva is a bottleneck for freight trains. The UP West line handles 60 Metra trains and 52 freight trains daily, on average. The two other UP lines in the suburbs handle more Metra trains but far fewer freight trains.

There is a curfew on freight traffic from 6 to 9 a.m. and 4 to 7 p.m. most days. That results in backups, Stark said, "really out into Iowa."

Railroad builders anticipated almost a century ago that there would be a third set of tracks in Geneva. The bridge over the Fox River, built in 1920, can accommodate four sets of tracks.

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But the overpass at First Street (Route 31) cannot. That will have to be modified.

The work will stretch from Kress Road near West Chicago to Peck Road in Geneva.

Construction is expected to take 18 to 24 months. Most of the work will take place south of the current tracks, except for a portion between Kirk Road and Crissey Avenue.

The Western Avenue and Third Street crossings will be closed for an estimated eight weeks apiece during construction.

The First Street underpass may be closed for four months.

The aldermen gave unofficial approval Monday to sell some land, and grant temporary construction easements on others, to the railroad, for a total of $646,813.

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