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New Metra station coming to Auburn Gresham neighborhood

Mary Wisniewski

Metra trains are parked near Metra’s A-2 switching station in Chicago on March 29, 2019.
Metra trains are parked near Metra’s A-2 switching station in Chicago on March 29, 2019. (Antonio Perez/ Chicago Tribune)

After years of planning, Metra and government officials on Monday announced a timetable to design and start construction of a new station in the Auburn Gresham neighborhood on the city’s South Side.

The $20 million station will be built just south of 79th Street on the commuter railroad’s Rock Island Line, Metra said. The design for the station, by T.Y. Lin International of San Francisco, is expected to be completed by the end of the year, with construction to begin next year, Metra said.

“This expansion of public transit will mean greater accessibility and opportunity for a community that in recent history has seen disinvestment and exclusion from meaningful economic development,” State Senator Jacqueline Collins, a Chicago Democrat who has pushed for the station through three different governors, said in a statement. “I hope this day marks the beginning of more growth for Auburn Gresham.”

Metra originally planned to fund the project with its share of proceeds from two state bond programs from 2009. But that money was held up due to the state’s budget problems, and then cut in 2017, Metra said.

Funding for the station was restored in recent state budgets. Metra spokesman Michael Gillis said the station could see 400 weekday passengers.

When built, the Auburn Gresham station, to be called Auburn Park, will be the only one on the Rock Island Line between Gresham at 87th Street and the 35th Street/Lou Jones stations.

Residents and community leaders have called the Far South Side a “transit desert,” meaning that the area has less access to transit than other areas.

Metra is in discussions with Cook County on a proposed pilot program to lower fares for city rail service on Metra’s Rock Island and Metra Electric District lines to $2.50 — the same cost as a ride on the CTA’s "L" — in order to add transit options to the South Side, said Metra spokesman Meg Thomas-Reile. Metra would also run trains more frequently under the plan, which would be subsidized by the county.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has come out against the plan, saying it would have a “a dramatic effect” on the CTA. But Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle has said she is proceeding with discussions about the pilot.

“We’ve promised to put money on the table to support the effort,” Preckwinkle said in recent WLS interview.

Keywords: Alderman David Moore, Alderman Roderick Sawyer, Auburn Gresham, Auburn Park, Metra, State Senator Jacqueline Collins (D-16)

Posted in Auburn Gresham in the News, Business, Housing, Economic Development, Community Highlights


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