LANSING | The board overseeing development of a local commuter railroad line was asked Wednesday to consider altering the route to have less impact on area freight railroad traffic.
Two members of the Metra commuter railroad board told the Southeast Commuter Rail Transit District to have trains run from Crete north to Dolton intersect with the existing lines used by Metra Electric commuter trains at 115th Street/Kensington. Those continue on to the Millenium Park station used by Metra Electric and South Shore lines.
The proposed Southeast line goes north from Dolton and intersects with tracks used by the Metra Rock Island commuter train line and wind up at the LaSalle Street station.
Southeast Rail Executive Director John DeLaurentiis presented a report about the $425,000 provided by the Illinois Department of Transportation and another $250,000 from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. Those grants will pay for a study to determine how a Southeast line would impact freight trains through the area.
Metra commuter railroad board Norm Carlson and Don De Graff suggested the change. Carlson, a one-time resident of Glenwood and Chicago’s South Shore neighborhood, said he has been told by Union Pacific Railroad officials their opposition would be reduced if the Rock Island line route were not used.
“I see it as a situation where the Union Pacific will fight us tooth and nail, to a situation where they would cooperate with us,” Carlson said.
Carlson said some track would have to be laid south of Chicago’s Pullman neighborhood to connect the proposed Southeast line to the Metra Electric line.
Carlson suggested a long-range transit plan by developing a large-scale station on 130th Street near Indiana Avenue in Chicago that could connect the existing Metra Electric and South Shore commuter lines to a proposed Chicago Transit Authority Red Line extension from 95th Street to 130th Street.
A Southeast line could also lead into there, along with suburban Pace bus lines.
“That’s real long-term thinking,” Carlson said. “If we want to think about the 'big' picture.”
DeLaurentiis was less certain, although he plans to spend the next month doing a study of whether it is practical to shift the Southeast line route.
De Graff emphasized the route shift was merely a suggestion and not an official Metra stance.
“I hope (the rail district) moves forward not hastily, but with haste,” he said. “This is an opportunity to raise the (south suburban) profile in a big way.”