January 29, 2002

57th Street Metra renovation nears completion

The first phase of the 55th-56th-57th Street Metra station renovation is nearing completion. The Metra construction team for the site, which closed the 57th Street entrance to the public last year, has revamped the ticket office, platform, and warming stations of the 57th Street station. Renovation of the smaller 55th-56th Street platform will take place in the upcoming months.

"We're hoping to have the 57th Street entrance open by the end of February to early March," said Dan Schnolis, a spokesperson for Metra.

The first stage of the $7 million project involved closing off the 57th Street entrance to the 55th-56th-57th Street station, leaving only the other two entrances available to commuters. The 57th Street platform was then knocked down and replaced with a 400-foot-long cast-component platform.

According to Schnolis, the 57th Street station will hold a refurbished ticket office and a new platform with a vending area and two new warming houses when it opens next month. Canopies will cover the majority of the platform.

Schnolis said that the station will also hold a new staircase, and two ADA compliant elevators.

"We have to finish installing the cast composite planks for the platform, the windows have been, for the most part, almost installed. They have to be finished on the warming houses," Schnolis said. " They're putting the finishing touches on the roof, the electricity, the heat, and the elevators."

Metra is also waiting for the elevators to be inspected.

The second phase of construction, which will begin when the 57th Street entrance reopens, will involve closing down the 55th and 56th Street entrances. Metra will remove the platform and construct a new one extending 200 feet, a length which will bring it to the 57th Street entrance. When the project is complete, the 55th-56th-57th Street platform will be 600 feet long.

A platform vendor will be hired when both phases of construction are complete. Schnolis said that a business has not yet been decided. "We're not going to deal with that until after the project is finished," Schnolis said.

Schnolis said that the 55th-56th-57th Street Metra station will become the major Metra interchange point in Hyde Park. Currently, virtually every train stops at the 59th Street/ University of Chicago Station.

"We have the main line that runs south to University Park and we have two branch lines, into Blue Island and into South Chicago. Instead of 59th being the main interchange point, it'll now be 55th-56th-57th," Schnolis said. "When it's finished it will be a nice transportation link for the area."

This is a comparatively large construction project to be undertaken by Metra, according to Schnolis. "Being that they're on an elevated embankment, it's a very cost-intensive project," he said.

Metra expects construction to be completed by early summer of this year.