Elmhurst solicits feedback on $25 million Metra station redesign

  • A rendering shows conceptual plans for a new Metra station site in downtown Elmhurst.

    A rendering shows conceptual plans for a new Metra station site in downtown Elmhurst. Courtesy of the City of Elmhurst

  • The Metra train station on First Street in downtown Elmhurst was the fourth-busiest stop in a 2018 survey.

    The Metra train station on First Street in downtown Elmhurst was the fourth-busiest stop in a 2018 survey. Daily Herald file photo

 
 
Updated 2/22/2021 6:15 PM

Elmhurst commuters waiting to catch a train at the downtown Metra station should hit the pause button on their podcast and instead imagine what they want to see in a new transit hub.

Pedestrian tunnels lined with public art? A clock tower? Covered bike racks?

 

The city is asking Metra riders to put on their architect's hat and share their opinions on a $25 million project to build a new Metra station campus.

A survey available online through the end of the month invites their feedback on architectural styles and some of the nitty-gritty details about what kind of lighting, bike rack and landscaping should be included with the new station.

The resident input will help a city-hired team of architects and engineers develop three alternative design concepts that will be shared and further reviewed in future public meetings.

The project is moving closer to reality as the city launches the second phase of engineering and design work. The city also has secured $20.4 million in grants and continues to seek additional funding, Mayor Steve Morley said last week during a virtual meeting.

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The entire project -- much broader in scope than a new station -- could cost roughly $25 million.

"The project has been very successful in grant applications at the federal, state and local levels," said Ben Harber, a project manager with CDM Smith.

The city hired the Chicago engineering firm in 2016 to redesign the station site, with an eye toward addressing accessibility, safety and capacity issues.

Constructed in 1964, the existing depot was last renovated in the late 1980s. Harber called it an "extremely tight" layout.

"Right now, we don't even have an ADA-accessible path along the side of the station," Harber said.

The Elmhurst stop handled about 2,540 passengers on an average weekday at the time of a 2018 Metra census, making it the fourth busiest of the stations ranked outside of Chicago.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Metra ridership overall has tanked during the pandemic, but transportation planners anticipate it will rebound in Elmhurst.

"A lot of that has to do with the growth that the city of Elmhurst has undertaken and the investment in the downtown," Harber said.

Even if commuters continue to work from home, they can still weigh in on the look of a new station, waiting areas and coffee vendor spaces.

Conceptual designs call for the construction of new inbound and outbound stations, a new pedestrian tunnel at York Street, reconfigured parking and designated Pace bus and commuter drop-off areas.

The larger, inbound station would house a 1,100-square-foot waiting area, ADA-compliant washrooms and a ticket office. The outbound station will include a waiting area and allow commuters to access the main station via covered stairs leading to an existing pedestrian tunnel.

Additional warming shelters will be located to the east of the stations on the north and south platforms. Other site improvements include new green space and about 150 new bicycle parking spots.

But the focal point of the redesign is a clock tower that would stand on the north side of the tracks, creating a new City Centre landmark.

Engineers say the hope is to start construction in 2023. The survey is posted on the city's website at elmhurst.org/1536/Metra-Station.

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