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Suburban Homewood Metra Station Getting Long Needed Repairs

Norman Parish | 9/23/2015, 2:22 p.m.
There was a time that when it rained in south suburban, Ill., the Homewood Metra stop didn’t provide much refuge ...
The Homewood Metra Train Station in the village of Homewood, Ill. is undergoing a massive renovation project. The station is 92-years-old. Photo by Norman Parish

There was a time that when it rained in south suburban, Ill., the Homewood Metra stop didn’t provide much refuge according to Raven Wallace, who used to cover her head to stay dry while waiting at the station.

The 92-year-old station at Ridge Road and Harwood Avenue, in the village of Homewood, had a ceiling that leaked and chipped stairs.

“It definitely needs to be renovated,” said Wallace, 23, of Glenwood, Ill.

Metra officials agree. Last month, Metra Board of Directors approved $585,000 to hire a firm for design and engineering services to restore the station. The agency has already started repairs for leaks and broken stairs.

The funding includes a $468,000 grant from the federal Surface Transportation Program, which was secured by Homewood through the South Suburban Mayors and Managers Association, and $117,000 in matching funds from the south suburban village.

Metra Executive Director/CEO Don Orseno said, “the Metra Board took the action needed to move this important station rehabilitation project forward. We thank Homewood Mayor Richard Hofeld and other Homewood officials for their hard work and persistence in securing funding for this project.”

Hofeld said Homewood has worked for more than a decade to get improvements at the station.

“This is the first step towards making the Homewood Metra Station as inviting and welcoming as the village of Homewood itself,” Hofeld said. “We look forward to not only carrying out the engineering work but also, hopefully, to securing state and federal funding to pay for the rehabilitation itself. The village is very committed to this project – we want to get it done.”

Engineering work is expected to begin in 2016 and take one year. The timeline for construction will depend on the engineering specifications and availability of construction funding.

Metra has also begun replacing steps on the metal stairway that connects the pedestrian tunnel with the platform. Other replacements include: ceiling tiles, ceiling rails and air vents above stairs.

Other work includes cleaning, sealing and painting all windows above the stairs, repairing and painting stucco; painting areas throughout the station, replacing damaged ceiling tiles at east and west entrances; and adding higher wattage bulbs in the tunnel. That work should be completed by November 2015.

Natasha Thomas, a regular Metra customer, said the Homewood station in the village of Homewood, Ill. is long overdue for renovation.

Natasha Thomas, a regular Metra customer, said the Homewood station in the village of Homewood, Ill. is long overdue for renovation.

“I can’t wait until this is completed,” said Natasha Thomas, a 35-year-old preschool teacher who lives in Chicago Heights. “You can see the openings between the stairs because they are cracking. You can tell the whole infrastructure need to be repaired.”

Earlier this summer, the neighboring Flossmoor Metra station got a $4 million facelift, one of several renovations in the last couple of months the rail line has initiated. Metra officials dedicated the Flossmoor stop by unveiling a new platform and new warming house at Flossmoor Road and Sterling Avenue.