It looks like everything is on the table for updating the Glen Ellyn Metra station, which has always been a little underwhelming, to put it kindly. Built in 1961, it looks decent enough from the outside but a complete renovation may be in the works if not a total rebuild. After hiring an engineering company in March to undertake a yearlong study of the station, the village recently wrapped up a survey to help decide what improvements to the station would be most beneficial to the community.
The takeaway from this news that will have the greatest impact is that the village is deciding between building a pedestrian underpass or a bridge to provide commuters and those simply walking through town with the ability to safely cross the tracks at any time. According to the Daily Herald, a bridge would cost an estimated $3 million, while a pedestrian tunnel would cost between $7 and $9 million.
Personally I like the idea and the optics of a bridge rather than a tunnel, but there are pros and cons to both. A tunnel would provide shelter from the outside elements, and may be easier for hurrying commuters to pass through than a bridge, but I imagine it could be nice to take a stroll over a bridge and see downtown from a new perspective. I feel a bridge also has the potential to improve the overall ambiance — if it’s done right. However, if the bridge looks like the conceptual drawing below, it may actually deter from the overall landscape.
Currently the project is in the hands of engineering firm CDM Smith, who was hired by the village for a fee not to exceed $232,375 (an incredibly precise number) to build a study that is estimated to take as long as 15 months to complete. So while nothing is imminent, it will be exciting to see exactly what plans ultimately get put into motion.
According to the Daily Herald, “CDM’s architectural consultants will prepare conceptual plans for a bridge, tunnel, renovation of the train station, a new building and other alternatives, creating a ‘menu’ of options for the village.”
While the thought of a bridge or tunnel being built grabs the most attention, a bigger impact may be felt by the smaller, less noticeable improvements such as additional bathrooms and more parking.
The current station has just one bathroom, and while I can’t personally vouch for it, I doubt this solitary bathroom provides a very pleasant experience. Brand new bathrooms that total more than one will make an exponential difference in the quality of life inside the station.
While I’m not sure what the village can do to improve the parking situation, I guess that’s what CDM Smith is getting paid nearly a quarter of a million dollars to figure out. The current situation has just one narrow lot on the same side of the tracks as the station. Additional parking includes a couple of small lots on either side of Park Blvd, or for those who have spent less time on the waiting list, there is a parking lot out in the boonies west of the Glen Ellyn Library. According to Google Maps, the walk from the Glen Ellyn Library to the train station is 8 minutes. That’s just plain mean. So it’s fair to say additional parking would be very high on the list for the many commuters that use the station on a daily basis.
CDM recently finished a study on the Elmhurst Metra station for a project estimated to cost between $12 million and $16 million. Fortunately grants are expected to cover 75 to 80 percent of the cost, so Glen Ellyn should expect to see a similar amount of its costs covered. The Elmhurst project will include a new pedestrian tunnel as well as renovations to the current tunnel, in addition to both an inbound and outbound station and reconfigured parking.
Since this project is still in the conceptual phase there are no concrete details on what will be done, but as soon as there is more information I will be happy to discuss further.