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The second public meeting for the Yellow Line Station Engineering Feasibility Study was held at Saint Francis Hospital on Sept.15.
Before the presentation, visitors could interact with City officials and representatives from its consultant PB Americas, Inc., and view posters illustrating the three station options-Ridge, Asbury and Dodge avenues- and other key components of the study.
Alderman Ann Rainey, through whose 8th Ward the Yellow Line tracks run, welcomed everyone and noted that the evening’s presentation was a feasibility study. She said the Yellow Line train runs from the Howard Street station on the east to the bridge over McCormick Boulevard on the west without a single stop in Evanston.
City Engineer Paul Schneider said this study will examine the potential for a new intermediate station on the Yellow Line in the 1-mile section of the line between Ridge and Dodge avenues and provide recommendations on the optimum location for such a station and ancillary facilities to enhance its utility. He added that the study will also respect the character of the surrounding neighborhood and existing traffic patterns and land uses.
The City of Evanston will pay for the feasibility study through a $220,000 grant in Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) grant that will be matched with $55,000 in City funds. The study area is bounded by Oakton Street on the north, Howard Street on the south, McCormick Boulevard on the west and Chicago Avenue on the east.
Although, he said market-travel demand indicated that all three options would be viable as stations, the Ridge Avenue option has been elimated.
Tom Coleman, senior planner at Parsons Brinckerhoff reviewed the specifications for each of the proposed Yellow Line stations:
• Ridge Avenue, located within the Oakton Historic District, is within walking distance of St. Francis Hospital and Oakton Elementary School and is served by CTA buses #201 and #206. No bicycles are allowed on Ridge Avenue. The proposed side platform station would require two elevators for ADA compliance. Drainage impacts make a lift station necessary. The gross area station would be 2,000 sq. ft. A station at Ridge Avenue has the highest potential ridership (288,000) and lowest capital cost at $20.6 million.
• Asbury Avenue is within walking distance of Oakton Elementary and Chute Middle schools. CTA bus #49B is nearby at Howard Street. The proposed side platform station would require two elevators for ADA compliance. Impacts of a ComEd power station will increase the cost. Drainage impacts make a lift station necessary. The gross area station would be 2,000 square feet. Redevelopment opportunities exist at Asbury/Oakton and Asbury/Howard. Potential ridership is 263,000, with capital cost at $22.4 million.
• Dodge Avenue is within walking distance of Dawes Elementary School and James Park as well as the Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation synagogue and the Levy Center. CTA bus #93 serves Dodge Avenue, and two platform options are possible there. A center platform would require one elevator with a gross area station of 1,870 sq. ft. and a capital cost at $27.2 million, because of replacement of an 85-year-old bridge and track realignment requirements. A side platform station would require two elevators for ADA compliance, with capital cost at $29.6 million (again, bridge replacement and track realignment are needed at Dodge Avenue). Potential ridership is 203,000, lower than the other two stations, because of density and land use.
Donna Spicuzza said the three locations are served by buses, which is less costly than constructing a new station to make the El service better.
Michael Drennan said he views the project as a win-win regardless of which station location is built.
Saying he was reiterating points made at the first public meeting in June, retired engineer Fred Wittenberg said he felt a Dodge Avenue station would be the best option and took issue with the need for a 24-foot-wide center platform. He pointed out that a similar configuration exists at the Purple Line’s South Boulevard station with a 16-foot-wide center platform.
Glenn Brown said he favored a station site east of McCormick Boulevard near Hartrey Avenue. He said he thought this location, although considered unfeasible by the Advisory Committee, should be reconsidered because of the opportunities for economic development on adjacent land at Howard and Oakton streets.
Mr. Coleman said online survey #2 will be available through Nov. 4 at www.evanstonyellowlinestation.org and urged everyone to complete it.
Additional steps for the Yellow Line Station Engineering Feasibility Study include continuing public involvement and community outreach; refining the evaluation of social, economic, environmental and transportation impacts; identifying the preferred station option; reviewing the findings with advisory and technical committees. The plan is to complete the feasibility study by January.
History of the Yellow LineCity Engineer Paul Schneider provided a history of the CTA Yellow Line: It operated as the Niles Center Branch of the North Shore Line rapid transit from 1925-1948. The route that ran from Howard to Dempster was closed on March 27, 1948, and replaced with the #97 bus.
In 1964, the Chicago Transit Authority started operating the Skokie Swift, as the route was called until 1993, when it was officially renamed the Yellow Line as part of the CTA’s adoption of color-coded names for its routes.