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Green light for rail stop study

Evanston Public Works Director John Burke says a federal transportation panel has recommended funding for a study to select the best location for a new Yellow Line rail stop in Evanston.

He says the Congestion Mitigation Air Quality committee has ranked the project the top transit infrastructure improvement project for next year.

After a public comment period that’s now underway, a final decision on the $224,000 grant is expected in October.

Burke says the proposed engineering feasibility study will attempt to determine which of the one-time station locations on the line — at Ridge, Asbury and Dodge avenues — would be the best spot for a new station in Evanston.

Burke told Evanston Now today that he believes prospects for funding the study, and for ultimate funding of construction of the station, are very strong.

"Because it’s an existing line, we’re talking a relatively low cost rail improvement compared to new lines and stations elsewhere," Burke said.

If the engineering study is funded, the work would likely be done early next year, Burke said, so that funding to build the station could be applied for in next year’s funding cycle.

A market feasibility study done last year concluded that a new station could generate up to 1,000 additional trips on the Yellow Line, or Skokie Swift, each day.

That, Burke says, would add about 40 percent to the existing ridership on the line, which is the most lightly used in the CTA system.

The line now runs from Howard Street on the Chicago/Evanston border to Dempster Street in Skokie without any intermediate stops.

The CTA recently restored weekend service on the line and plans are underway to add a station at Oakton Street in Skokie to serve the Illinois Science & Technology Park.

Rapid transit service on the line began in 1925 and was suspended from 1948 to 1963.

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