Metra celebrated the groundbreaking for a $29.4 million renovation and expansion of the mechanical shops that house the agency’s railcar and locomotive rehab programs.
“By the time these facilities are expanded and modernized, we will be able to rehab 60 railcars a year, a 40-percent increase from what we are able to produce today,” said Metra CEO/Executive Director Jim Derwinski. “That is a significant step toward reaching a state of good repair, and improving our service and reliability for our customers.”
The 47th/49th Street facility predates Metra. It was opened in 1947 by the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad and has not undergone significant improvement since. The facility serves as the main mechanical yard for the Rock Island Line. The location, particularly the 49th Street Coach Shop, is also the site of Metra’s main railcar rehabilitation program. Since 2010, 214 passenger cars have been overhauled at the facility, extending the life of each railcar by 10 to 14 years. Having an in-house program to keep our equipment in a state of good repair has been extremely successful, cost-effective and more expedient than outsourcing the work.
In March, the Metra Board of Directors approved a contract with Chicago-based firm F.H. Paschen, S.N. Nielsen & Associates LLC through a competitive bidding process. The contractor has committed to awarding 25% of the subcontracting work to Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) firms.
The project, which is expected to take nearly two years to complete, will expand the 49th Street Coach Shop, including an upgrade of the facility’s loading dock, storage and railcar wheel-truck rebuild area and the addition of training facilities. The project also includes improvements to the 47th Street Diesel Shop, which maintains locomotives used on the Rock Island and is the facility where Metra’s MP36 locomotive rehabilitation program is housed. Work at the 47th Street facility will include a reconfiguration of the loading dock area, adding an enclosed crane to it and rebuilding the materials storage area. The project further includes improvements to the rail yard’s parking, drainage, and utilities.