OLD IRVING PARK — A busy Milwaukee Avenue intersection on the Northwest Side was scheduled to reopen at the beginning of this year — but it will now be closed through 2023, officials said.
Metra crews are keeping the area closed for several more months to finish replacing the bridge at Kilbourn and Milwaukee avenues, agency officials said in a news release last week. This is at least the third time the project has been extended because the work is taking longer than anticipated.
Original plans called for the northbound side of Milwaukee to reopen in late April. Now, it will stay closed for safety reasons and so the project can finish more quickly, officials said.
Metra crews closed full access to drivers, pedestrians and cyclists on Milwaukee Avenue between Kilbourn and Kenneth avenues in September to speed up construction on the Grayland station, 3729 N. Kilbourn Ave., and replace the 122-year-old railroad bridge.
The rebuilt station will have longer platforms, new public address equipment, visual information signs, shelters with on-demand heat on each side, lighting and stairs and ramps to make it fully ADA-compliant.
The project is being funded with $13.1 million from the Federal Transit Administration, $17.8 million from the Federal Railroad Administration, $2.3 million from Canadian Pacific and $2.9 million in other Metra funding.
The bridge was built in 1899, and the improvements were announced in 2020.
Drivers, cyclists, pedestrians and the No. 56 bus have been rerouted to Addison Street while the street is closed. A temporary two-way concrete bike lane barrier was added along Addison Street between Milwaukee and Kilbourn avenues with pavement markings to provide a safer path for cyclists.
The Northwest Side stretch has received safety upgrades after drivers killed two bicyclists nearby. Concrete bike barriers on both sides of the closed intersection were installed last month by the city’s transportation department, a relief for some neighbors who have called for safety changes since 2019.
Metra spokesperson Michael Gillis previously said Metra will be in charge of adding the concrete bike barriers under the bridge along Milwaukee, which will go in once the project nears completion in spring 2024, Gillis said.
In December, city crews installed a speed camera in front of Schurz High School after neighbors and alderpeople had long asked for one.
Stop signs, more visible cones to separate the bike lane, a pedestrian island and bike barriers were also added in the latter half of 2022.
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