LAKEVIEW — Metra’s sweeping plan to replace 11 of it bridges through Lakeview over a four-year stretch will be unveiled to neighborhood residents Thursday as it prepares to move into a new phase of a $262.3 million overhaul of the Union Pacific North Line.
The bridge replacements from Fullerton Avenue to Cornelia Street are part of the larger project by Metra to modernize the UP North line. Metra already replaced 11 bridges from Grace Street to Balmoral Avenue, and began reconstructing the line’s Ravenswood Station, 4800 N. Ravenswood Ave.
Metra official will detail the work on the 120-year-old bridges at a virtual community meeting 6 p.m. Thursday. Registration is now open.
“These bridges are old,” Metra spokesperson Michael Gillis said. “They’re safe to use, but it takes a lot of time and money to keep them that way year by year. They’ve reached the end of their useful lifespan and need to be replaced.”
Replacing the bridges will cut down on service delays by reducing the likelihood of slow zones along the corridor, Gillis said. It will also reduce potential service interruptions due to bridge maintenance needs.
These adjustments will also reduce Metra’s carbon footprint by reducing oil and diesel fuel dependence with fewer service delays and greater ability for trains to maintain consistent speeds, he said.
“Also, if we’re able to replace the bridges, these costs to keep them up will go down, and we can use that money to maintain the rest of the system,” Gillis said.
The project is in its design and planning phase, Gillis said, with construction expected to run in two phases from 2023 to 2027.
Other elements of the project include replacing the railroad’s retaining walls where needed from Fullerton to Addison Street; shifting the tracks slightly west; lowering Roscoe and Cornelia streets to maintain current clearance under the CTA Brown Line; refurbishing and painting the Lincoln/Addison bridge; and some utility work along the UP North line.
The project will require some street and sidewalk closures, but neighbors will be notified beforehand, officials said.
Property owners with backyards or gardens next to the railroad might be affected by construction, Gillis said. Metra will identify and reach out to those residents to work with them throughout the project.
The full project is expected to cost $262.3 million, Metra officials said. So far, $161.2 million has been allocated, including $6 million in federal funding and another $156.1 million from Rebuild Illinois bonds.
Jake Wittich is a Report for America corps member covering Lakeview, Lincoln Park and LGBTQ communities across the city for Block Club Chicago.
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