Metra begins rehabilitation project at Blue Island station

A Metra Beverly Branch train awaits departure from the Blue Island-Vermont Avenue station on June 28, 2019. A rehabilitation of the station has begun. (Trains: David Lassen)

BLUE ISLAND, Ill. — Metra broke ground on the $3.8 million rehabilitation of the Vermont Avenue station at Blue Island, an 1868 structure in Metra’s Rock Island district.

A ceremony on Thursday, July 28, attended by Metra CEO Jim Derwinski and other state and local officials marked the start of a project that included a full interior renovation; roof repairs, including replacement of gutters and downspouts, and rehabilitation of wooden eave supports; reconstruction of the original chimneys; replacement of bricks and other masonry work; new landscaping; and enhancements to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“This project will create a more welcoming and comfortable facility for riders of the Rock Island line while retaining its historic character,” Derwinski said in a press release. “The result will be an enhanced driving experience for My Metra customers.”

The work is scheduled to be completed this fall. The total cost is $5 million, including $1.2 million in design costs. It is funded by the Federal Transit Adminstraiton, Metra and the Regional Transportation Authority.

The structure at 2300 West Grove Street is located at the convergence of the Metra lines. In addition to serving as a stop on the Rock Island Main Line, it is the southern end of the Beverly branch, offering stops with streetcar frequencies at Blue Island, Morgan Park, and Beverly Hills. Also, the end of the Blue Island branch of the Metra Electrical District is just across Vermont Avenue.

The brick structure was built by the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific, replacing a small wood-frame structure built in 1852. According to the City of Blue Island’s website, its long history includes stationing federal troops in the building in 1894, after unrest broke out in adjacent rail yards among sympathizers of the Great Pullman Strike.

Side view of the station
Vermont Avenue station was built by the Rock Island in 1868. (Trains: David Lassen)

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