Evanston committee picks Asbury for new Yellow Line stop

Audrey Cheng

A city advisory group recommended Tuesday that the CTA Yellow Line return to Asbury Avenue in south Evanston for the first time in more than 63 years.

The panel selected Asbury Avenue over Dodge Avenue for the location of the planned Yellow Line station.

Representatives presented their decision at the Levy Senior Center, 300 Dodge Ave., in front of about 40 attendees, including Ald. Ann Rainey (8th).

According to a feasibility study, the Asbury Station would attract 263,000 riders annually – about 60,000 more than were estimated to utilize the proposed Dodge stop. The cost of planning and building the new station on Asbury Avenue was estimated at $23 million.

Paul Schneider, the city’s director of transportation and engineering, introduced the feasibility study while Tom Coleman, a consultant from Parsons Brinckerhoff, presented his firm’s proposal for the new Asbury Station.

Coleman first contrasted the two stations that were being considered, Asbury and Dodge, after Ridge Avenue was eliminated as an option Sept. 15 at the second Yellow Line study meeting.

“We looked more deeply at the fiscal constraints, the public comments from the survey, different socioeconomic factors, such as population around the station areas, as well as environmental factors,” Coleman said.

One of the deciding factors that favored Asbury over Dodge was the new station’s noise impact on surrounding communities, Coleman added.

“If we look at the constraints of the Asbury Station, the station is located below grade, so the visual and noise impact would be mitigated,” Coleman said. “At Dodge, the station is elevated, so… the actual noise level may be louder.”

Coleman also said the advisory committee decided not to provide commuter parking at the Asbury station.

“One, because commuter parking is provided at Howard, as well as at Dempster, and two, because of the different land uses around the station,” Coleman said.

Asbury will be the only new Yellow Line stop in Evanston, but construction is already underway in Skokie for the new Oakton Station, which was first approved in 2005.

The Yellow Line is the shortest CTA line and has only two stops. The train currently shuttles commuters between Skokie Station and Howard Station near the border between Evanston and Chicago.

Coleman also acknowledged there are problems with the Asbury Station that still must be addressed.

“Right now, with the way the lane widths are at Asbury, you can’t pull a bus off the side and not block the traffic,” Coleman said.

Evanston resident Gregg Warren said Dodge would have been a better choice because it could counter this traffic problem.

“The streets (around Dodge) are wired, so you could have a bus pull in that wouldn’t block the street,” Warren said. “I do understand that the Asbury area has a higher population, because you have more multi-unit buildings, so that’s why there would be potential for walking traffic.”

Coleman presented an online survey that showed 58 percent of Evanston residents preferred Dodge over Asbury, which received only 30 percent support in the poll.

Warren said he was surprised by the committee’s decision.

“Dodge to me makes more sense simply because you have existing bus lines,” Warren said. “You also have the park, the Levy Center and school. For people who want to get to the closest shopping area… that is walkable from here. None of that exists around Asbury.”

Public Works Director Suzette Robinson acknowledged Dodge was a popular choice but said the station would be too costly – an estimated $10 million more than the proposed Asbury stop, according to the feasibility study.

“We didn’t just look at what the public voted for,” Robinson said. “We looked at the potential ridership, the capital cost, the annual operating cost. When we considered all of those factors, we came up with our recommendation.”

Robinson added the final decision is up to the Evanston City Council.

“The public has the opportunity to go to their alderman and share their concerns,” Robinson said.

The advisory committee will present its official recommendation to council members in April.

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Click here to see the PowerPoint presentation from the meeting.