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Homewood station renovations are on Metra’s to-do list but not likely to be done soon

The celebration last week of completed renovations at the Flossmoor Metra station had commuters at the next two stops to the north revisiting an old question: “What about us?”

Homewood and Calumet stations both are in need of attention. Homewood, for instance, has numerous problems, from a dank, smelly tunnel to an erratic elevator.

Renovations at both stations are on Metra’s radar, but the projects are not slated to begin in the immediate future.

Homewood Mayor Richard Hofeld said improving the station and tunnel are high on the village’s priorities.

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Village officials met June 9 with officials from three major rail companies in the area — Metra, Amtrak and CN — and discussions included the condition of the Homewood station.

“It’s a matter of money,” Hofeld said. “(Metra CEO) Don Orseno has been great. He’s aware of the condition of (the station) and he wants to see this come about.”

Metra spokesman Michael Gillis said the village secured a $468,000 grant to fund design work for a station renovation.

“We would expect that (design) work to begin in early 2016,” he said. “That process would determine the scope of work and cost of construction, and funding for construction would have to be secured before the work could take place.”

Hofeld said the village put forward the idea of completely rebuilding the tunnel, which runs under the tracks from Harwood Avenue to the station platforms and the station building on Park Avenue.

At minimum, though, the tunnel needs to be sealed against moisture, the elevator upgraded and the west entrance made handicap accessible, among other improvements, he said.

Calumet station might be ahead of Homewood in line. Gillis said the design work is complete for Calumet station renovations.

“Our intention is to proceed with a renovation as soon as the state gives us notice that we can access the grant dollars with which we are planning to fund the renovation,” he said. “We don’t have a release date as yet.”

Metra faces big challenges in capital improvement funding, according to Gillis.
“Our capital needs in recent years have been far, far greater than the amount of money we have received from Washington and Springfield to pay for them,” he said.

He cited an estimate by the Regional Transportation Authority that puts Metra’s unmet capital needs over the next decade at about $11.7 billion.

“Even the most optimistic forecast of the amount of money we expect to receive would equal a fifth to a fourth of that amount,” Gillis said.

http://metrarail.com/metra/en/home/about_metra/capitalprojects.html
http://metrarail.com/content/dam/metra/documents/Planning/Capital_Program_20150526.pdf

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