Ravenswood’s upgrade now on track

Article and Photos by Patrick Butler

Phase II work on the Metra/Union Pacific tracks running through Ravenswood will probably run until at least 2020, with “significant” closures of east/west streets, according to Joseph Ott, Metra’s engineering chief; Dan Martinez of Judlau Construction; and 47th Ward aldermanic chief of staff Jim Poole.

But although the job will involve replacement of 11 bridges on the east side of the UP line between Grace and Balmoral – mirroring work already completed on the west side of the tracks – the job won’t be nearly as involved as the one already completed, the officials informed neighbors at a Jan. 16 meeting held at Our Lady of Lourdes school, 4641 N. Ashland Ave.

For those who couldn’t make that afternoon meeting, another briefing was held that evening at the Lycee Francais school, 1929 W. Wilson Ave.

While some neighbors were upset when Martinez confessed that some of the landscaping improvements made by local residents along the east side embankment will almost certainly be impacted by the work, Martinez and other Judlau managers promised to replace whatever foliage gets damaged.

Asked why the job was taking longer than anticipated when Metra/Union Pacific officials first unveiled the plans about three years ago, Ott blamed the delay on “engineering” considerations and a wait for federal funds.

But “the money’s there” for the $32.7 million job, Ott assured the neighbors.
Poole promised to post updates – including any upcoming street closures – on the 47th Ward website.

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