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City officials say an engineering feasibility study has concluded that Asbury Avenue is the best location in Evanston for a new CTA Yellow Line station.

City Engineer Paul Schneider told about 30 people gathered at the Levy Center Tuesday night that the Asbury station would cost 30 percent less than a station at Dodge Avenue and that it would likely generate about 30 percent more ridership.

Top: A rendering of what the station house might look like on the west side of Asbury. The view is looking to the northwest. Above: City Engineer Paul Schneider presenting the report Tuesday night.

But what the Asbury station wasn’t the winner on was public support in an online survey. In that survey Dodge Avenue won out nearly two-to-one over Asbury.

That preference was apparent at the meeting, where several residents said they still thought Dodge would be the better choice.

Residents at the Yellow Line meeting at the Levy Center.

Speakers also voiced concern that none of the station proposals included parking for commuters, and suggested that it would be easier to add that at Dodge Avenue.

But Schneider said because there are already commuter parking options at Dempster Street in Skokie and at Howard Street on the Evanston-Chicago border, adding commuter parking didn’t seem to be financially justified — at least as part of the initial build out for a new station.

Scheider said other factors favoring Asbury included that it is about a mile from Howard Street, and that spacing is typical for stations in the CTA system.

Also, because the rail line is in a trench at Asbury but elevated at Dodge, the study concluded that noise from a station at Dodge would affect many more nearby buildings.

A rendering of what the station platform might look like at Asbury for a southbound passenger looking east.

And, Schneider said, city officials have concluded there is more potential for future development along the Asbury corridor south of the rail line to Howard Street.

If a tax increment financing district were created for the area, such development could help fund the local match cost for the new station.

Schneider said that if federal funds could be obtained for the project, they would typically cover only 70 to 80 percent of the cost, which for an Asbury station is now estimated to total $23 million.

A third alternative, of locating a station at Ridge Avenue was rejected earlier in the review process for a variety of reasons, including difficulties in bicycle access, that two CTA stations are considered to already be within walking distance from that location and limited potential for new economic development in the area.

The recommendation will go to the City Council next month, which will decide whether to accept it and whether to proceed with seeking funds for the next phase of engineering work on the plan.

The presentation from Tuesday night’s meeting, and other related documents, can be found online.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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15 Comments

  1. I prefer Dodge, but let’s get this infrastructure built!

    It is way past time to get a Yellow Line station re-opened.

    I think Dodge has better potential for linking riders with existing transportation infrastructure and buisness generators like Target/Home Depot shopping centers.

    Nevertheless, this project should go forward.

    It is encouraging to see how inexpensive it will be relative to other transportation investments the city has made in the past.  

    With federal funding the city will pay around $6-7 million.  Compare that to the Sherman Garage which cost the city $35 million (and is only used at about 60% capacity).  

    The other advantage is that future maintenance costs will be the responsibility of the CTA.  City Council spent $2.5 million last year alone for maintenance on the under-utilized  downtown parking garages.

  2. Exciting

    While I agree that Dodge is also a good choice, this station would be right in my nieghborhood and we would use it constantly, especially in the winter.  It's a direct connection to the excellent grocery store at Howard, and there's nowhere close to walk to buy groceries.

    1. Asbury is the right place

      I don't see what the attraction is of Dodge…enquiring minds want to go to the IHOP on Asbury, and they're right about the Asbury/Western area having greater potential for future development.

  3. Agreed!

    While the proponents of a Dodge station are certainly loud and many, I always knew in my heart that an Asbury stop made most sense. The reduced construction costs, easily-walkable connections to the Western bus and close proximity to the Howard/Western-Asbury business corridor sealed it for me. If this station is ever realized, I believe it will provide a huge benefit for South Evanston and West Rogers Park.

  4. Again, Dodge.

    I'm disappointed that Asbury is the final choice. I do believe that Dodge would be a better option considering its proximity to existing shopping draws like the Target, Jewel and Best Buy.

    Also, why do ridership estimates and public opinion differ so much? Ridership estimates go with Asbury while actual riders prefer Dodge? Reminds me of a somewhat recent Brookings Institute study that showed that transportation in the Chicago area was doing a good job of getting people from but not to. In other words, they could get from home to the train station, but that train wasn't going where they wanted it to go. Like Target. Or Jewel.

    And for those who say there are regular buses that pick up the slack along Howard: I can typically beat any bus along Howard to my destination (typically from Target to Howard Station) at a brisk walk because buses along Howard are routinely (notoriously?) few, far between, and ridiculously off schedule.

  5. Agreed: Asbury is the right choice for ridership, cost and more

    It is gratifying to see a government study that reflects sound judgement.  Asbury is the right choice for ridership (higher number) and cost (lower number). 

    There are other positives as the study notes.  A new el stop at Asbury would draw business to the former Osco site and to commercial properties just south of the Asbury stop as well.  St. Francis Hospital is relatively near the Asbury stop.  I don't see reference to it in this story so perhaps the study did not comment on it but just south of Howard on Western is a CTA bus turnaround lot for an easy connection to the buses on Western in Chicago.

    Dodge/Mulford is not that close to Home Depot or the Target/Best Buy shops.  Home Depot is half a mile from Dodge/Mulford, as are the Target/Best Buy shops, and few el riders would hoof that distance with a new television set or sink, for example.  And there's little possibility of developing business near the Dodge/Mulford corner given what is already built in the area (large public park, senior center, a house of worship and parking lots for use by those entities).

    Public surveys are subject to "stuff the box" responses that don't reflect the reality of the choices that actual customers would make.  Let's move ahead with this logical choice and improve transportation for a large area of southcentral Evanston.

     

  6. I’ll use a station at either

    I'll use a station at either Asbury or Dodge, but like a fool, I decided to take the time to comment on my preference for the station at Dodge. So did 97 other people and the results were nearly 2 to 1 in favor of a station at Dodge. A word of advice to anyone reading this. This is a perfect example of the disconnect between citizens and their government. Government will always do what it wants, regardless of what we the citizens want. All the survey did was make them look considerate, it never was intended to effect the final decision. In other words, the survey was a waste of everyone's time. 

    1. 85 year old Bridge

      The Trib Local article says that the elevated structure at Dodge for the El is 85 years old and would have to be replaced and that was a major factor in the decision.  Makes sense to me, but that structure will have to be replaced anyway someday.

      1. 85 year old bridge

        Candace,

        While everything has to be replaced someday, CTA wanted the station project to carry the cost of the bridge replacement.  A cost some on the committee felt was CTA's to bear as they have had use of the bridge for 85 years instead of passing it off to this project. Regardless the condition and ablitiy of the bridge to carry the weight of L cars and platform etc increased the cost of the Dodge option.

    2. Even when gov’t is thoughtful about $$$, the crabbing begins

      If the study (funded by government) had come back suggesting the more-expensive option (Dodge/Mulford) and the lower-ridership option (Dodge/Mulford), people would complain that government was ignoring the economics of a new station.  I, for one, am glad that finances and ridership were considered in making this recommendation.

      Citizen input was certainly considered.  The online survey was helpful to point out issues that those charged with making a reasoned, economically-sound recommendation might not have otherwise considered.  Anyone who submitted comments contributed to the process so it was not a waste.

      But no, a major infrastructure decision, costing tens of millions of dollars to build plus yearly upkeep, should not be based on an online survey.  There is nothing scientific about an online survey where some with a vested interest take the time to "stuff the box" with responses about how great their choice would be.

      And take another look at the responses to the online survey.  A significant portion, including you, said that a station in either location would meet their needs. 

      Let's not fall into the constant Evanston refrain of crabbing constantly while accomplishing little other than spending money without much thought.  Give credit to those who made a reasoned, financially-sound decision and let's move ahead!

       

      1. Stuff the ballot box?

        Can you (or anyone else using this argument for that matter) explain how the folks who live near Dodge and would prefer a Dodge station were acting in self-interest and were uniquely able to "stuff the ballot box", but the folks who voted for the Asbury station were not? It sounds absurd.

        1. On “stuffing the box” — we’ll never know but that’s the point

          On "stuffing the box" — it can happen with an open survey.  So we don't know how many times anyone in any particular area responded to the survey.  With an open survey, a single person or a small group can "stuff the box" and no one will ever know.

          That's why we can't rely on an open survey to make a multi-million dollar, long-term infrastructure, community-impacting decision like this.  The survey is meant to collect information, opinions, insights, observations, etc.  It is not a scientific or even a fair "one person, one vote" system.  I don't want government spending tax dollars based on an open survey.

  7. Consider potential riders?

    I will read the results in more detail later, but I am curious to what extent they considered potential future riders who don't live nearby now.  I know for sure I would have considered buying a home in that area if there were decent El access; if you add bus & El commuting time together, it was just too long a commute for me, which was a major factor in our decision to buy a condo near the Brown Line instead (a comparable place in Evanston was just out of reach for us financially).  But we surely would have considered a place further west in Evanston if the transportation connections to the Loop were faster, and would consider it if we move in the future. I'm sure we aren't the only people for whom transit times to the Loop are an issue.

  8. Don’t ignore crumbling infrastructure

    Sure the Dodge station would have cost more, mostly due to an 85 year old bridge that would need to be replaced at some point sooner rather than later anyway. I guess it's best to ignore crumbling infrastructure to save some buckaroos…..just like they did in Minneapolis several years ago with their highway bridge that crumbled into the Mississippi river with rush hour traffic plowing into the river with it. Yeah you're right, let it crumble, it's the CTA's problem.

  9. I’m in!

    Asbury works for me!  Starbucks on the corner and a tad bit safer than Howard!  I will use it for certain!  Dodge is too far and exclusive, Western and Howard is a busy corner, residential, commercial, etc.   It makes more sense. 

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