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Groundbreaking marks official start of Homewood Metra station renovation project

Breaking the ground on the Homewood Metra station renovation project are, from left, former Cook County Commissioner Liz Gorman, Cook County Department of Transportation and Highways superintendent Jennifer Killen, Pace executive director, Melinda Metzger, Pace Board Member Terry Wells, Homewood Mayor Rich Hofeld, Metra CEO Jim Derwinski, Metra Board Chair Romayne C. Brown; Dillard, Cook County Commissioner Donna Miller, Director Paul E. Ruffin of the Metra Board of Directors, Chicago Metropolitan Agency For Planning (CMAP) executive director Erin Aleman and Amtrak district station manager Noel Wilmington. (Nick Ulanowski/H-F Chronicle)

Construction of a new, revitalized Homewood Metra station officially began on Thursday, May 11. When the construction is finished, the station will be more accessible, more aesthetically pleasing and have upcoming train schedules digitally displayed, officials said.

Holding shovels and wearing white hardhats with the Metra logo, the ground was broken by CEO Jim Derwinski, Homewood Mayor Rich Hofeld and other Metra, Pace, Amtrak, Regional Transit Authority (RTA) and Cook County officials.

According to a press release from Metra, the $14.5-million project will include a wheel-chair-accessible ramp, a new elevator, new paint and “the renovation of the platform, wind breaks, warming house and gatehouse.”

A new Pace bus facility also is being built. It’s set to include three bus bays, a covered waiting area and bathrooms for drivers.

“Coupled with this work that Amtrak’s recently finished and our partner Pace, this will truly be a transportation hub for the South Suburbs – a gateway for people to go where they want to go and a gateway to come back home,” Derwiniski said.

Because of the construction, the east side entrance to the Homewood Metra station on Harwood Avenue is currently closed. Derwinski said the construction will be complete in about 18 months. 

“All stations including this one, are getting enhancements with digital signage now to tell you when the next train’s coming. That’ll be part of this project,” Derwiniski said. “It’ll say like, ‘next train’s coming’. It’ll have safety messages on it. It’s going to be a more modern enhancement to the existing way that we message customers.”

As an example, Millennium Station, the last northbound stop from Homewood, has digital signage.

“It’ll be clean. It won’t have smells. It’ll be accessible. It’ll be well lit. All of those things add up to better accessibility,” Hofeld said, describing how the renovations will improve the Homewood Metra station. 

Chairman of the RTA Kirk Dillard said this renovation is a part of a larger plan to improve to Metra Electric line in the South Suburbs.

“Metra is such an integral part of Chicago’s economy and a place like Homewood is a quintessential Chicago suburban area,” Dillard said. “Wherever mass transit goes, the region’s economy and communities grow. And this is a great day for Homewood, the South Suburbs and anyone that rides the Metra Electric line.”

“We’re very excited – as our community will grow and prosper from this,” Homewood village trustee Vivian Harris-Jones said.

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