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Metra & the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community
service of the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference Transit and Parking
Committee and the HPKCC website, www.hydepark.org
A Little History from the Conference Reporter, July-August 2000 (la meme choses..)
For some years now, Metra--stations and embankments--have serious concerns for the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference.
As early as 1987, Conference committees, including LILAC, have worked successfully for improvements to Metra's embankments and the reconstruction of retaining walls.
In 1994, Metra approached the local aldermen for community input on plans to make Hyde Park stations ADA accessible. As a result of this request, the aldermen established a Metra Improvement Committee.
Since the beginning, HPKCC Board Member Jane Comiskey...sat on the committee as it reviewed readership and design studies and sought funding for the complete remake of all four stations within its boundaries.
A Major Question
A major question at the time was: "Which station or stations should be principle gateway stops that would have elevators and a full set of amenities.
Action was long delayed. In March 1999, Alderwomen Holt and Preckwinkle did hold a meeting on May 20 at the Lutheran School of Theology. Strong concern was expressed by those in attendance about parking, accessibility, safety, cleanliness, and upkeep.
Parking concerns were fueled, in part, by a change in lead stations from 59th St. to the 55th-57th St., stations. Since then, these concerns have been reinforced by HPKCC through repeated resolutions and correspondence.
Although plans and timetables were refined in subsequent meetings, there were long stretches when the Conference and many others in the community were disappointed with Metra's lack of communication with the public.
The Improvement Committee and the public were successful, however, in having Metra plans include community-based art embankment beautification, a full set of infrastructure upgrades, elevators where the community wants them, directional informational signage, and appropriate commercial space.
Full funding for a $12 million project to rehabilitate the three northern stations simultaneously has finally been assembled. Work will begin after an early August ground breaking.
The 59th St. station will be considered for improvement after the other stations have been finished. The university hopes to obtain funding for the enhancement of this gateway station and viaduct.
LILAC... received an $8000 grant from the University of Chicago for embankment replanting after th stations have been finished.
According to the Transit Task-force, Metra owes the community much more--more frequent service, transfer rights with CTA and PACE, and rebuilt and new/reopened accessible stations over the entire Metra Electric District, and the level of maintenance and security the community deserves.
An Interesting Proposal
One proposal that has been receiving serious consideration in planning circles is represented by the Gray Line idea discussed last year in this publication. That idea would bring CTA into the city portion of Metra' Electric District service through a lease-back agreement.
For more information about the Transit Task Force, or to become a member of it, call [James Withrow, chairman, 773/320-5926,] on e-mail HPKCC .