The flurry of attention and activity around Metra’s portion of the Homewood train station has continued this week.
Tuesday night two Metra officials attended the village Board of Trustees meeting to provide an update on maintenance work, and Wednesday three Homewood officials attended the Metra Board of Directors meeting to discuss current Homewood station projects and witness the next step in a major renovation project.
Trustee Lisa Purcell, Public Works Director John Schaefer and Economic Development Director Tom Vander Woude represented Homewood at the Metra board meeting.
Purcell has been involved recently in discussions with Metra officials about the current conditions of the station, which is beset by water infiltration and general deterioration.
“We wanted to see that the funding got approved,” she said, referring to the money needed for an engineering study that will precede a major renovation of the facility.
She also wanted to make sure the board knows that Homewood is paying attention to the smaller scale maintenance project that began last week.
“I thanked them and told them we’ve noticed repairs have begun,” she said. “I also told them we have the list and we’re watching that. They got the point that we’re on top of that.”
She said Metra board members assured her the railway is aware of the condition of the station and is eager to address the problems.
“We all know we need more than these Band-Aids,” Purcell said.
The “more” will come at least a year or two in the future, but the process is already under way.
The Metra board approved an $585,000 amendment to the agency’s 2015 capital program to fund the engineering design study, according to a news release from the commuter railway.
The funding includes a $468,000 grant from the federal Surface Transportation Program, which was secured by Homewood through the South Suburban Mayors and Managers Association, and $117,000 in matching funds from the village, Metra officials said.
“Today, the Metra Board took the action needed to move this important station rehabilitation project forward,” said Metra Executive Director/CEO Don Orseno. “We thank Homewood Mayor Richard Hofeld and other Homewood officials for their hard work and persistence in securing funding for this project.”
Engineering work is expected to begin in 2016 and take about one year. The timeline for construction will depend on the engineering work and the availability of construction funding.
“This is the first step towards making the Homewood Metra Station as inviting and welcoming as the village of Homewood itself,” said Homewood Mayor Richard Hofeld. “We look forward to not only carrying out the engineering work but also, hopefully, to securing state and federal funding to pay for the rehabilitation itself. The village is very committed to this project – we want to get it done.”
Bruce Marcheschi, Metra chief engineering officer and Lynne Corrao, Metra director of community and legislative affairs, attended the village board meeting Tuesday at the invitation of Village Manager Jim Marino to provide an update on short term repairs.
Marchesi characterized the current project as a “bridge gap” — work that will make the station more presentable until the major renovation gets started.
He noted that painting in the east entryway was nearly complete and would be done by Aug. 31. The lighting fixture in the east elevator had already been replaced with a new LED fixture, though he said the old lens still needs to be replaced.
Ceiling tiles have been replaced as needed and work has been done on the stucco facing on the platform, he said.
The tunnel will be painted too, but Marchesi cautioned that the current project would take care of discoloration on the walls temporarily but will not address the water problem.
“There’s a water issue. That’s one of the issues that will be addressed in the larger project,” he said. “The engineeering firm will tell us the solution for how to stop that water from coming in. Right now we’re just trying to clean it up and make it look better. Our ultimate goal to get that problem taken care of.”
The stairway from the tunnel to the platform will also be repaired, getting new steps and risers, but Marchesi said that part of the project could take up to seven weeks because work will only be done on weekends when use of the facility is lower.
Work will also be on the west stairwell and on the roof and interior of the platform stairwell.
He said all the work should be done by Nov. 1.
Marino and Schaefer expressed appreciation for the work Metra crews have done so far.
“I appreciate Metra’s efforts to try to get funding,” Marino said. “That station will not be renovated for several years. In the meantime, it should look good. You’re doing a great job.”
Metra officials promise to address station maintenance issues (HF Chronicle, Aug. 15, 2015)
Village pushes for train station maintenance while long-term solutions sought (HF Chronicle, Aug. 12, 2015)
Damaged step to Metra platform repaired, but some residents still unsatisfied with condition of Homewood station tunnel (HF Chronicle, Aug. 6, 2015)
Homewood station renovations are on Metra’s to-do list (HF Chronicle, July 3, 2015)