Evanston City Council approves location for new Yellow Line station

Jia You

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The Evanston City Council unanimously approved Asbury Avenue as the location for a new Chicago Transit Authority Yellow Line station Monday.

The idea for a new Yellow Line station in south Evanston came from a 2007 market analysis the city conducted with Skokie and the Regional Transportation Authority. That analysis identified three potential locations for the new station – Dodge Avenue, Asbury Avenue and Ridge Avenue. The city then hired the consulting company Parsons Brinckerhoff in 2010 to evaluate the locations.

“It’s additional mobility,” said city manager Wally Bobkiewicz. “More and more people, with the cost of gasoline, are looking to public transit.”

The study presented to City Council on Monday at the Lorraine H. Morton Civic Center determined the preferred location based on its impact on the community, said Tom Coleman, senior planner at Parsons Brinckerhoff, 

“The selection of these stations really came down to the context of the neighborhood and the impacts around it,” Coleman said.

The study eliminated Ridge Avenue due to residents’ concerns that construction could cause traffic congestion in the Oakton Historic District, said Rajeev Dahal, the city’s senior traffic engineer.

The Asbury Avenue station was eventually chosen because its location in a trench would block the construction noise. Furthermore, the area has a higher population than Dodge Avenue and thus has more potential ridership, Coleman said. He said the Asbury Avenue station is expected to attract 840 boardings per day based on 2010 estimations.

The city estimated the total cost of the new station to be $23 million. Evanston’s next step is to conduct an environmental study on the station, which would take one to two years and cost $1 to $1.6 million, Coleman said. Afterward, the project will move to design and construction.

“Assuming you have your funding requirements all in a row … starting today, the earliest you could probably come in line with a station is 2016 or (2018),” Coleman said, adding that schedule might be delayed as the city searches for funding.

Bobkiewicz said the city will work with transit agencies such as the CTA, RTA and Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning to come up with funding strategies.

“This is not something we will do alone,” he said.

In addition to the Yellow Line station, the City Council unanimously approved the construction of a new dome for storing road salts at the municipal service center.

City staff last year proposed building a 4,000-ton salt dome on a new site because a dome of that size could not fit into the service center. The salt dome currently in use at the center was determined to be outdated. However, City Council rejected that plan due to cost concerns.

Suzette Robinson, the city’s public works director, presented a proposal Monday that would instead build a 3,750-ton capacity dome on the footprint of the city’s existing salt dome. The city’s expanding anti-icing and de-icing capabilities has reduced the need for road salt, she said.

However, construction of the new salt dome will be delayed because the service center has plenty of salt due to the warm winter, Robinson said. Construction will begin once those salts are depleted, she added.

Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl said the new plan was an “excellent solution to a difficult problem.”