OLD IRVING PARK — A massive and expensive Metra bridge project that closed a busy Milwaukee Avenue intersection on the Northwest Side is again delaying the strip’s reopening.
Milwaukee Avenue between Kilbourn and Kenneth avenues will remain closed until June 2024, according to a statement from Metra. The street portion, which has been closed since last summer, was set to reopen in December, but permitting delays and the “onset of winter” will push back the reopening, Metra officials said.
Detours in effect for buses, cars, bicyclists and pedestrians also carry over to the new timeline.
This is at least the third time the street’s reopening was been delayed because of the replacement project. The closure was initially so crews could speed up the massive project to upgrade the Grayland station and replace the nearby 122-year-old railroad bridge.
Milwaukee Avenue was originally set to open in December 2022 after being closed for about three months, but construction and weather delays kept moving the project back, officials have said.
The closure has caused traffic headaches, confusing detours and growing frustrations from neighbors. Some blasted the crews and construction company, IHC Construction, for its lack of communication and noise from Metra officials and crews.
Metra officials responded by creating the project website and stopping early-morning work that was being done against permit rules.
The bridge construction is set to be finished this month. After the bridge is done, crews need to shift “hundreds of feet of railroad tracks” from the temporary bridge to the new bridge and demolish the temporary structures. The street and sidewalk will be restored around the temporary bridge foundations, and protected bike lanes will be installed under the bridge after the project is completed, officials previously said.
Additional work on the new station is expected to continue through the end of 2024, officials said.
The station, 3729 N. Kilbourn Ave., is being rebuilt with 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 new bridge is supposed to improve train reliability by reducing delays from slow zones and track closures or trains canceled due to maintenance and repair work on the existing bridge.
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