Why were Metra riders on tracks? In Transit has the answer

  • Metra BNSF Line riders had to stand on train tracks in the half-light at Union Station in June because of platform overcrowding. Things will get better, Metra promises.

    Metra BNSF Line riders had to stand on train tracks in the half-light at Union Station in June because of platform overcrowding. Things will get better, Metra promises. Courtesy of Cheryl Cianelli

 
 
Updated 7/15/2019 10:25 AM

Metra riders are used to coping with the unexpected, but a recent mess at Union Station strained BNSF Line regular Cheryl Cianelli's patience.

As passengers waited for doors to open on a train with mechanical problems during the afternoon rush June 13, conditions on the platform got increasingly sardine-like.

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Eventually "there was no more room to stand, so we had to stand on the next track" in dim light, Cianelli said. We'll provide Metra's response shortly in this column that's devoted to answering readers' questions.

Adding to Cianelli's misery, "on this day they were making overhead announcements, but we could not hear anything with the trains running and no speakers in the vicinity.

This is hazardous, because if there was an emergency we would not be notified on where to go," the Downers Grove resident explained.

Metra is sorry, spokesman Michael Gillis said.

A last-minute problem with the braking system caused the crew to keep the doors shut and the train was eventually canceled, he said.

"We made announcements over the loudspeakers in the concourse and along the platform. We understand the announcements can be hard to hear on platforms, particularly at the far end of the platforms where the engine is located," Gillis said.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The tracks that Cianelli and others were standing on are at the far end of the platform and typically wouldn't be in use.

"Nevertheless, no one should ever step off a platform onto tracks," Gillis said.

"Meanwhile, Metra and Amtrak are working on a major upgrade to the communication system at Union Station that includes better loudspeakers as well as monitors on the platforms. Customers can expect to start seeing these improvements within a year."

A footbridge over Central Road seems to go nowhere, but Schaumburg officials promise it will be completed soon and serve bikes and pedestrians.
A footbridge over Central Road seems to go nowhere, but Schaumburg officials promise it will be completed soon and serve bikes and pedestrians. - Courtesy of Vickie Scott
Bridge to ... where?

Vickie Scott of Hoffman Estates is suspicious about a footbridge under construction that connects a bike path from the Paul Douglas Forest Preserve near Hoffman Estates "to apparently nowhere," she writes.

"The bridge, which appears to be about 90 percent complete, starts from the bike/walking path (and goes) over Central Road just west of Roselle Road," Scott said. "The new bridge goes from the bike path in the forest preserve over Central Road and ends at the junction of Roselle Road and the I-90 east interchange and abruptly ends with no place to bike."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Given that there's a nearby Illinois Department of Transportation office building, Scott wonders if the bridge was built just for state employees and if that's a good use of taxpayer funds.

Have no fear, Schaumburg communications director Allison M. Albrecht explained.

"In 2018, Schaumburg officials approved an agreement with the Forest Preserve District of Cook County to construct an additional bike path along Roselle Road. The new bike path is located on the west side of Roselle Road from Hillcrest Boulevard on the south side and includes a new bridge over Central Road and connection to an existing bike path in the Paul Douglas Forest Preserve," Albrecht said.

"This is a federally funded project in which the village of Schaumburg serves as the lead agency. Work is continuing on the construction of the bike path; the project is anticipated to be complete by the end of July, weather permitting."

Covering the concrete

Reader Bernard Wagner is curious why the Illinois tollway is "topping the beautiful new concrete Tri-State tollway (near Lake-Cook Road) with asphalt. Seems like a lot of effort, doing the whole road in concrete only to cover it in asphalt," Wagner said.

Tollway spokesman Dan Rozek noted that "this work is being done as part of the tollway's regular maintenance program to extend the usable life of this concrete pavement, which was originally constructed in 1998.

"Typically, this type of asphalt overlay is added after a concrete roadway has been in service for about 20 years -- as is the case in this location. Future pavement repairs and asphalt overlays will be added in this area as needed to keep the roadway in good condition."

More room to stretch

Chicago recently Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP to design two new concourses on the west side of O'Hare International Airport. The concourses will be double the size of current ones, which means more space for passengers to stretch their legs, and additional restaurants and shops. Both will be constructed to accommodate large and small jets. Concourse 1 is intended for international and domestic arrivals and departures, Concourse 2 will handle U.S. flights plus pre-cleared international arrivals, Chicago Department of Aviation officials said.

• Got a question or comment? Send an email to mpyke@dailyherald.com.

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