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Plano

Metra Board OKs $4.7M engineering contract for possible Kendall extension

Train passengers wait to for a Metra train to pull into the Joliet Station Wednesday, Oct. 14, in downtown Joliet.
Train passengers wait to for a Metra train to pull into the Joliet Station Wednesday, Oct. 14, in downtown Joliet.

Long-standing efforts to extend Metra commuter rail service into Kendall County have received a boost from the agency's governing board.

In a unanimous vote Wednesday, May 17, the Metra Board of Directors awarded a $4.7 million contract to a Chicago-based company for conceptual engineering and design work for the possible extension of commuter rail service into Kendall County along the Burlington Northern-Santa Fe Railway's mainline tracks, Metra spokesman Michael Gillis confirmed.

Gillis said the $4.7 million for the contract will be fully funded through federal capital funds. He said that funding will come out of $7.5 million that was earmarked by former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert of Plano in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

“The intent is to do enough engineering to be able to get a rough estimate of what it would cost to do this sort of work,” Gillis said.

Alfred Benesch & Company will draft a route extending beyond Aurora, which is the last Metra BNSF station. Possible station locations could include Montgomery, Oswego, Yorkville, Plano and Sandwich in DeKalb County, according to board meeting documents.

Gillis said Kendall County communities that would be interested in the service would have to come up with way to fund it on their own, since Kendall County is not one of the six counties that are part of the Regional Transportation Authority. He said service in Cook, Lake, McHenry, DuPage, Kane and Will counties is funded partly by sales taxes collected within those six counties.

Meeting documents also said Metra is examining several factors within the project, including environmental, real estate, infrastructure, operational, contractual and design potential impacts. The commuter line service already determined that track and signal improvements to the BNSF line both east and west of Aurora would be necessary for the expansion of the commuter service area, the meeting documents said.

"I think this is the first time doing this sort of engineering for this proposal," Gillis said.

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