Rendering of the above-ground part of a below-street-level CTA station on the Yellow Line at Asbury Avenue. No decision has been made, but the group conducting a feasibility study recommended the site. Rendering from Parsons Brinckerhoff

A below-street-level station at Asbury Avenue is the preferred site for an Evanston stop on the CTA Yellow Line, said Tom Coleman, senior planner at Parsons Brinckerhoff, at a meeting at the Levy Center on Jan. 24.

Three sites were initially proposed for an infill station here: at Ridge, Asbury and Dodge avenues. The Ridge Avenue site was eliminated for several reasons, among them the proximity (one-half mile) to the Howard Street CTA station and the high traffic volume and lack of bike lanes on Ridge Avenue, said Mr. Coleman.

Impact on the neighborhood, potential economic development and construction and operating costs were the main factors in distinguishing the Dodge Avenue site from the Asbury Avenue one, Mr. Coleman said.

Asbury vs. Dodge

Because a station at Dodge Avenue would be elevated, construction costs would include reconstructing the CTA bridge and bolstering the retaining walls there, at an estimated $33 million. Operating and maintenance costs are projected at $671,000 annually, and the annual ridership is projected at 203,000.

For an Asbury Avenue station, the capital costs are projected at $23 million (not including an engineering study), the annual operating and maintenance costs at $913,000 and the annual ridership at 263,000.

Mr. Coleman said a rubric from the Federal Transit Administration for estimating noise impact showed that at Dodge Avenue there were “20 buildings or structures in the perimeter” that would experience “severe to moderate impact” from the increased noise from a station there. The noise would come chiefly from activity at the station, he said, not from the trains’ stopping and starting there. Noise-absorbing panels installed at the station could mitigate some of the noise from passengers, trains and announcements, he said.

At Asbury Avenue, said Mr. Coleman, there is a “higher potential to create a walk-up station. The site is accessible by bicycle, and 11,000 people live within a half-mile. He also said the proximity to St. Francis Hospital – about a quarter-mile away – and to the Howard-Western commercial sites were considerations for the recommendation for an Asbury Avenue rather than a Dodge Avenue site.

Further, since the station would be below grade, the impact of noise and vibrations from the train would affect most seriously only the immediately adjacent buildings. These are multi-family buildings, he said, and their height and density would help block the noise and vibrations from spreading farther.

During the question-and-answer period with the audience of some 50 people, it became clear that parking was a concern for some residents. Some said they preferred to drive to a station and pointed out that there is ample parking in the Dodge Avenue area. Others indicated their belief that additional parking in their neighborhood would cause congestion and other problems.

Paul Schneider, director of transportation for the City, said since this was a feasibility study, parking was not one of the considerations. Parking and other details would be considered in future studies, he said.

“Parking would not be considered in Phase 1 [of this study]. … [Further,] these are meant to be neighborhood stations.The goal of this feasibility study is not to eliminate sites but to figure out which one will get funding going forward,” said Mr. Schneider. He said the cost of an Asbury Avenue station would be about $27 million, including an engineering study. Even with federal funding – which could cover 70 to 80 percent of the costs – the City would have to come up with the remainder of the funds, though additional funds might come from the state.

Mr. Schneider said the feasibility study should be finished within “the next month or so.” He encouraged residents to give comments about the study and its recommendations by either calling 311 or at evanstonyellowlinestation.org.