Crossing gates open for stopped outbound trains
by BRIAN NADIG
The railroad crossing gates in Downtown Edgebrook will no longer stay lowered while outbound trains on Metra’s Milwaukee District North Line are stopped at the Edgebrook Metra station.
However, gates will remain down while inbound trains are stopped at the station. Metra announced the change in its operations for outbound trains in an Oct. 4 letter to the Edgebrook-Sauganash Chamber of Commerce, which had asked the agency for help in improving traffic flow. The change took effect this week.
"On behalf of the board of directors, we respectfully request that Metra move its passenger platform further north of Devon on Lehigh so that the local economy is no longer disrupted by commuter activity blocking the business district," chamber president Dennis Hammer wrote in a Sept. 14 letter to Metra.
Hammer added, "The two main thoroughfares of the Edgebrook business district, Devon and Central avenues, are blocked multiple times per hour due to train traffic passing through. When Metra trains stop in Edgebrook, delays on Devon can last several minutes while passengers embark and disembark. These delays create a significant negative impact on Edgebrook businesses."
The chamber hopes it can work with city and Metra officials to move the train station further north so that all gates will remain up while any train is stopped at the station, Hammer said. "(The recent news) is a step in the right direction," he said. "It’s a big deal." It is not know if Metra is interested in moving the station.
Chamber executive director Jennifer Herren Gatesman said that any reduction in the area’s gridlock is a major victory for merchants because the traffic discourages commuters from heading into the business district to shop or eat.
"By making this adjustment in our train operations, it should help alleviate problems with traffic congestion in this area. However, due to the signal configuration, as inbound trains are approaching and loading passengers at Edgebrook, the gates will remain down at all three crossings until the train clears Central Avenue," Metra incoming chief operating officer Bruce Marcheschi wrote to the chamber.
Meanwhile, the Downtown Edgebrook sewer project is scheduled to be completed by Nov. 19, according to Alderman Anthony Napolitano’s chief of staff Chris Vittorio. Initial plans had called for a date of Nov. 8, but permits for the project are being extended 11 days following an unforeseen delay when a crew struck an underground fiber optic cable, which had to be relocated.
Vittorio said that all lanes of traffic should open prior to the new completion date but that there will then be temporary lane closings through Nov. 19 while crews repave and install lane markings.
Vittorio said that there had been fears that the project could last through the end of the year due to the cable issue but that "the goal is to get this (construction) out of there before Thanksgiving" and generate some excitement for the holiday shopping season in Edgebrook.