By Bob Uphues
A plan for improving the area in and around the Prairie Avenue Metra station in Brookfield finally got the green light last week, with village trustees voting to award a contract to Copenhaver Construction Inc., of Gilberts.
The village board shelved the largely grant-funded improvements last fall after bids came in between 6 and 12 percent over cost estimates. The village rebid the work earlier this year, and Copenhaver came in with the low bid of $288,600 — about 37 percent under initial estimates.
Brookfield will pay 36 percent of the total amount, about $104,000. The rest of the funding comes from a grant through the West Suburban Mass Transit District.
Work includes tuck pointing the station itself and laying a new brick paver platform directly north of the station, along with installing new benches and trash receptacles and repairing sections of concrete sidewalk. New landscaping is also part of the plan.
Improvements will be made to the north platform, including new concrete and landscaping. Wayfinding signs with information about downtown Brookfield are also part of the plan on both the north and south platforms.
In addition, significant improvements are slated both north and south of the grade crossing along Prairie Avenue. Brick paver sidewalks will be installed on each side of Prairie Avenue between the tracks and both Brookfield and Burlington avenues.
High-visibility crosswalks will be placed across Brookfield and Burlington avenues, and a raised brick pedestrian refuge will bisect the crosswalk on the east side of the Brookfield/Prairie intersection.
Work on the improvements will likely start sometime in May or June, said Village Planner Emily Egan, after the Burlington Northern-Santa Fe Railroad completes improvements to the grade crossing itself.
Sometime in April or May, the BNSF is planning to reconstruct the grade crossing, raising the tracks about 3 inches, Egan said. The work is expected to take just a couple of days, but the grade crossing will be closed to traffic during that time.
Work at the train station itself will start first, with the right-of-way improvements starting in June/July.
Also slated for installation in 2018, but perhaps not until the fall, are covered bike shelters at both the Prairie Avenue and Congress Park train stations.
The bike racks come courtesy of a roughly $222,000 grant through the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement program, a federal entity, and a $14,500 grant from the Regional Transportation Authority.
One 12-rack covered shelter will be located near the kiss-and-ride turnaround area along Burlington Avenue, while a 24-rack shelter will be installed on the south side of the Congress Park station in a presently unused gravel area east of the entrance.
The uncovered bike racks on the north platform at Prairie Avenue, near the dragonfly sculpture, will remain in place.