Improvements to Amtrak and Metra customer facilities at the shared station in Chicago south-suburban Homewood were celebrated this morning by federal, state and local officials formally beginning a combined $29 million construction project that will continue through spring 2022.
Now underway on the west side of the tracks owned by Metra and CN Railway, Amtrak is using $15 million of federal funds it receives for compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to replace the stairway and augment the stairs with an enclosed ramp, allowing all customers to access the tunnel under the tracks to both the Amtrak and the Metra train platforms.
Metra electric trains and Amtrak diesel-powered trains operate on separate tracks with different platform heights. Also included are ADA improvements to the unique former Illinois Central Railroad station built in 1923 and a level path between the building, parking, and the stairway/ramp entrance to the tunnel. Across the 46-state network, Homewood is the largest Amtrak ADA project this year.
Starting in the spring on the east side of the tracks, Metra is using $14 million primarily through the Chicago Metropolitan Agency on Planning (CMAP) and the Federal Transit Administration, including $4 million from Metra, $585,000 from the Village of Homewood and $300,000 from Cook County to replace the existing station structure on the east side of the tracks, renovate the existing 1911 tunnel and creating accessible paths from both ends of the tunnel. Prior to this project, the only all-access path to the Amtrak and Metra platforms has been from the east side of the tracks.
As part of the project, the 109-year-old tunnel will be waterproofed, provided with upgraded lighting, drainage and ventilation systems, and graffiti resistant finishes. In addition to transit access, the tunnel also connects the community, joining the downtown retail district on the east side with the residential area and Ravisloe golf course on the west side.
Three daily Amtrak trains typically serve Homewood and the station is ordinarily used by 54 Metra Electric District Trains on weekdays and 40 on weekend day. All Amtrak and Metra services have been temporarily reduced due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Amtrak MidwestSM service in Homewood by the Illini and Saluki trains sponsored by the Illinois Department of Transportation between Chicago and Carbondale and the Amtrak City of New Orleans to and from its namesake city has been temporarily suspended during this phase of the project because Amtrak trains are passing through Homewood without stopping. Shuttle bus service between Homewood and the next Amtrak station to the south in Kankakee is included in the Amtrak fare.
-via Press Release