Some commuters were ready for the closure of the east entrance to the Homewood train station on Monday, March 13, but some were caught off guard and found the doors to the Harwood Avenue headhouse blocked.
Those riders had to drive or walk to the west side of the station to catch their trains, and there was a trail of footprints in a fresh dusting of snow on Harwood Avenue, under the viaduct and south on Park Avenue to indicate more than a few took the latter option.
Homewood staff hoped to ease the disruption for everyone, prepared or not, by offering free coffee and donuts to commuters.
Village Manager Napoleon Haney was joined before 7 a.m. by Finance Director Dennis Bubenik, Economic Development Director Angela Mesaros, Assistant Village Manager Tyler Hall, Assistant Finance Director Amy Zukowski, Administrative Assistant Nancy Adams, Deputy Police Chief Bob Misner, Events Manager Marla Youngblood. Police Chief Denise McGrath also stopped by.
“We’re here to ease the inconvenience of the Metra project,” Haney said.
Although some commuters declined the offer, Haney said quite a few stopped and took the opportunity to get a little boost before boarding the train.
“It’s been good,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to talk to residents, to say hi.”
It was also an opportunity to provide information about the project. Homewood’s train station was built in 1911 and has been in poor condition in recent years.
Adams was handing out printed QR codes that commuters could use to find project updates on the village website.
The $14 million renovation of the station is expected to take about 14 months, so riders will have to adjust to limited access.
One commuter who declined to give her name said she was thinking about using another station during the project. Others seemed to take the inconvenience in stride.
Haney said the village is working on ways to help out.
“The goal is to get some temporary sidewalks and barriers to keep people safe,” he said.
On Tuesday, public works crews made progress on a temporary pedestrian walkway. Concrete barriers were placed from just south of Elm street north to Dixie Highway.
Where the sidewalk on the east side of Park Avenue from the viaduct ends just north of the rail park, a wooden walkway was nearly completed Tuesday that will help commuters get safely to the station. It will help bridge a sidewalk-less portion of Park Avenue by providing a link to the rail park sidewalk.