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Most speakers at a community meeting Thursday night about a possible new Evanston stop for the CTA Yellow line said they favor Dodge over Ridge or Asbury avenues as the location.

The meeting was the first of three public sessions planned as part of an engineering feasiblity study being conducted by the city that’s largely funded through a federal grant.

Stations at all three location opened in 1925 as part of the Niles Center Line of the Chicago Rapid Transit Company, sharing the track with the North Shore Line interurban system.

After the Chicago Transit Authority took over the rapid transit lines, it ended the Niles Center service in 1948 because of low ridership, only to bring it back as the “Skokie Swift” in the 1960s — but the intermediate stations were not reopened and they were eventually torn down.

Top: Residents discuss proposals for a new station with city planner Susan Guderly. Above: A conceptual layout for a possible new station at Dodge Avenue, with the station house on the east side of the intersection and a center platform. City consultants said the center platform design would reduce the number of elevators and other facilities needed at a station, but it would require moving the tracks further apart and expanding the steel viaducts over the street.

City officials at the Thursday meeting stressed that even though a new station has already been discussed for years, it’s still a long and uncertain path to building one.

“I hope I’m still alive when it’s finally done,” said Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, who chaired the session.

But Evanston officials have been encouraged by Skokie’s success in getting funding to bring back an Oakton Street stop on the line in their community.

“That was a long process for them with a lot of heartache,” said City Engineer Paul Schneider, “but they’ve now broken ground for it.”

The current $275,000 feasibility study is 80 percent funded by a federal Congestion Mitigatin and Air Quality grant made through the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, with the rest of the money coming from the city’s budget.

It’s intended to come up with a recommendation for a preferred station location.

No funding is currently available for the rest of the process — environmental reviews, preliminary and final engineering studies or construction.

But Schneider said CMAP is currently developing a five year funding plan for future work, and Evanston hopes to be in position to qualify for further funding as part of that process.

Most of the residents who expressed a preference for a station site at the meeting said Dodge Avenue would be best because it is least served by rapid transit now.

But a few speakers living closer to Asbury or Ridge suggested that getting to the Purple line at South Boulevard or the Red Line at Howard Street wasn’t as easy for them as their more westerly-living neighbors thought.

The Yellow Line is 1.5 miles from the Howard station at Dodge Avenue, 1 mile at Asbury and 0.7 miles at Ridge.

Residential density, however, tends to be higher to the east — with more apartment buildings and fewer single family homes.

The city is conducting an online survey starting today about the new station proposal at a special website set up for the project, evanstonyellowlinestation.org.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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11 Comments

  1. Give and Take

    Let's close three purple line stops due to funding, but then turn around and spend money to just investigate (a little) about building a whole new station elsewhere? Genius!

    I'm not against opening more yellow line stops to make the line more useful and serve other areas, its just we need to resolve one thing at a time. I know it say "largely funded through a federal grant" but that's not the same as entirely funded. And it's only a first step we are wasting money on. Its like building a brand new garage when your house is in serious need of repairs.

    1. Yellow … Purple

      CTA floated the idea of closing two Purple line stops as part of a massive Red and Purple line reconstruction effort it's seeking federal funding for.

      Evanston officials told CTA that residents here don't want stations closed, and residents said so directly.

      No final decisions made yet by CTA.

      City is taking the lead on the new Yellow Line station, though CTA would ultimately have to approve.

      The two processes are separate.

      — Bill

  2. Dodge is the right choice

    Dodge is certainly the right location.  However, they need to provide sufficient parking for people to leave their cars.  Let's hope the CTA gets this done!

  3. CTA stations past and future

    Does anyone remember the store that occupied the ground-level part of the old CTA Dodge Station years ago? If memory serves it was a plumbing supply place – or maybe it was electronics supply?

    The remains of the station at Asbury were in place for many years until the bridge there was redone. I went down and investigated around 1998 and found the lights for the platforms still there with broken light bulbs in place. Spooky!

    Most interesting is that what was torn out at one time is now desired. Think of the Skokie Valley route of the North Shore Line (of which the Skokie Swift is a tiny remnant) that today would bring people in from the northern suburbs – people who sit in stalled traffic on the Edens. But with the right of way taken up by private property, it's unlikely that route will ever return.

    One can see with the removal of the Mayfair line in Evanston the quick uptake of railroad land once a line is ripped up.

    One of the many good things about the rails-to-trails movement that has turned RR routes into bike paths is the idea of rail-banking, that the right of way is preserved for possible use in the future. The RR may never return but the possibility is there as opposed to the usual practice of ripping out things and completely remaking with whatever is new.

    My final thought is on the spatial efficiency of the railroad. If you take a bike on a former RR route, you can't help but be amazed that the United States was largely built and populated over these narrow snaking paths by lines of railroad cars running on two tiny steel ribbons on wooden blocks – such a contrast to the huge multi-lane freeways that slash the countryside so that each individual can drive a car by himself to accomplish the same purpose. The tonnage a RR can transport per amount of fuel used is stunning, particularly in light of the minimal environmental impact of the route.
     

    1. Memories

      Clif – I think that one of the last businesses at the Dodge Ave. Station was a cleaners; whatever was in there, a fire finished off the business and that was the end of it.

      At the Ridge Ave overpass, there is still a concrete platform type structure at track level; CTA rebuilt a set of stairs from street level down and there is a work building that looks (if memory serves) like it might have been part of the original structure. It is now used as a CTA maintenance point.

      1. Memories

        At Asbury was a little mom-and-pop right on the bridge over the old platforms (must've served as the station entry at one time). 2 pinball machines in the back was all that was needed to keep us neighborhood kids out of trouble (sometimes).

  4. Dodge Station Option

    "Dodge Avenue would be best because it is least served by rapid transit now." It's surprising that nobody raised the point that it also has the lowest ridership potential of any of the three stations. Though Dodge would serve a presently underserved commuter market and its catchment area would not overlap with other potential stations, it would have extremely low ridership and very limited potential for trips other than home-to-work. One slight edge I'd give to Dodge is the potential for a few park-and-ride spaces, if the Evanston Park District could tolerate a shared parking arrangement behind the James Park community center.

    Of the 3 stations, I'd vote for Asbury. It is centered in the market/study area, is just under a mile from Howard L and serves a denser neighborhood (thus more ridership). It has better access for drop-off patrons than Ridge, and is two blocks from the Howard/Asbury/Western neighborhood commercial center thus could accommodate more than just home-to-work trips. Also the Howard/Asbury/Western intersection has seen better days could use a boost IMHO, and a "new" station a couple blocks away could help to reestablish its commercial viability.

    I also have a gut feeling that Asbury has the best chance of attracting patronage from south of Howard, i.e. Chicago, but don't know if Evanston residents want this. Asbury could also pick up much of the "walk-in" catchment as far east as Ridge or slightly beyond. Note though that there is a small SFR neighborhood to the southeast that at one time connected to Asbury via a footpath (off of the Brummel/Barton intersection). This was closed off years ago but if re-established, could serve walk-in traffic from the east, though residents of Dobson/Brummel/Barton might take issue.

    I would also look at reinforcing bicycle/pedestrian and bus connections. There is a great analysis of the three options over at publictransitbug.blogspot.com, and I've commented there as well.

  5. Station Options

    "Dodge Avenue would be best because it is least served by rapid transit now." It's surprising that nobody raised the point that it also has the lowest ridership potential of any of the three stations. Though Dodge would serve a presently underserved commuter market and its catchment area would not overlap with other potential stations, it would have extremely low ridership and very limited potential for trips other than home-to-work. One slight edge I'd give to Dodge is the potential for a few park-and-ride spaces, if the Evanston Park District could tolerate a shared parking arrangement behind the James Park community center.

    Of the 3 stations, I'd vote for Asbury. It is centered in the market/study area, is just under a mile from Howard L and serves a denser neighborhood (thus more ridership). Compared to Ridge it has better access for passenger drop-off, and is just two blocks from a major neighborhood commercial center thus could accommodate more than just home-to-work trips. Howard/Asbury/Western intersection has seen better days could use a boost IMHO, and a "new" station a couple blocks away could help to reestablish its commercial viability.

    I also have a gut feeling that Asbury has the best chance of attracting patronage from south of Howard, i.e. Chicago, but don't know if Evanston residents want this. Asbury could also pick up much of the "walk-in" catchment as far east as Ridge or slightly beyond. There used to be a short footpath that connected Asbury to the Brummel/Barton intersection and adjoining residential neighborhood. This was closed off years ago but if re-established, could serve walk-in traffic from the east, though residents of that neighborhood might take issue.

    I would also look at reinforcing bicycle/pedestrian and bus connections, at whichever of the 3 stations is decided. There is a great analysis of the three options over at publictransitbug.blogspot.com, and I've commented there as well.

  6. Yellow Line

    A station at Dodge is probably the worst  choice of the three possible alternatives.  It is, however, clearly Ald. Rainey's preference.  A station at Ridge or Asbury would be better options; closer to more potential ridership as well as to shopping and other businesses near Howard and to St. Francis Hosp. A Dodge station would mainly be close to the Levy Center and Ald. Rainey's house.

     

    1. Dodge street station

      it is my first choice also. very respectfully manon kavesky

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