Renovation of downtown Libertyville train station nearly complete

  • Libertyville's renovated downtown Metra station could be ready for commuters by the end of June.

      Libertyville's renovated downtown Metra station could be ready for commuters by the end of June. Mick Zawislak | Staff Photographer

 
 

A new commuter rail station in Libertyville has opened, and the renovations to another local station on Metra's Milwaukee District North Line are nearing completion.

A permanent warming house at Prairie Crossing on the village's far northwest side opened May 30, and a station renovation near Lake Street at Milwaukee Avenue downtown could be ready by the end of June.

Both have been in the works for years, but construction of each coincidentally began last fall. While serving the same Metra line, the projects are independent of each other and were undertaken for different reasons.

Metra initiated work on the federally funded $1.2 million Prairie Crossing warming house at Harris Road and Route 137. It replaces a "temporary" trailer installed when the stop was added to the line in 2004.

The 480-square-foot brick heated building features decorative stonework and a wooden truss ceiling. New sidewalks, landscaping and benches also were part of the project to replace a double-wide trailer.

"The new shelter makes the station more attractive but more importantly provides a safe and more comfortable waiting area that better serves existing riders and can attract new ones," Metra CEO/Executive Director Jim Derwinksi said at the opening.

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Downtown, the village long has fought for a station overhaul to better reflect the historic character of the community, rather than the serviceable but basic facility that Mayor Terry Weppler described as ugly.

Bids for the renovation, considered a gateway project for the village, came in much higher than expected in the fall of 2017, leading to a redesign and rebid. Work later was slowed in part because portions of the structure were not up to modern building code.

When the renovation is complete, the foundation and one wall will be the only original parts of the downtown station remaining. Metra contributed $300,000 to the work, with the village paying the balance of the $1.3 million project with parking fees that have been set aside for years for this purpose.

From a facade perspective, the building will be complete this week, according to Rick Swanson, a Lake Forest architect who designed the renovation and has proposed plans for a residential development nearby.

There was mishap last week when the sign contractor misspelled 'Libertyville' above the station entrance, but that was fixed within hours, Swanson said.

Everything inside is done except the doors, which are expected to be delivered June 20. It will take a few days to install hardware and paint, Swanson added. Assuming everything happens as scheduled, the station should be complete by the end of June, he added.

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