Not that it will do much good, because the nation’s great railroad companies appear to operate as independent principalities accountable only to themselves, but we are nonetheless asking the Burlington Northern-Santa Fe Railroad to please give the village of Brookfield some firm idea of when you intend to make improvements to the Congress Park train station’s south embankment.
For the past three years, the village has been slowly making over the area in and around that station. So far, to the south of station along Burlington Avenue, the village has created a new commuter parking area west of DuBois Boulevard. A grant also brought some much-needed covered bicycle parking as well.
The village has made some mainly cosmetic improvements to the station itself, upgrading the shelters, adding new lighting and platform furniture, and making some repairs to the stairs.
Next year, courtesy of a grant from Cook County, the village will improve the area north of the station, installing wayfinding signage and making the station easier and safer for pedestrians and bicyclists looking to access the station from Southview Avenue.
But the rest of the improvements for the area immediately south of the station are on hold until BNSF finally moves ahead with its plan to shore up the south embankment by replacing the unsightly, green-painted concrete retaining wall with a sloping earthwork.
Once that’s done, the village can finish off the project by removing the island east of DuBois Boulevard and creating a brick paver pickup/drop-off plaza in front of the station’s main entrance.
At the same time, Metra is studying what it can do to make the station fully accessible. Perhaps BNSF needs to be involved in that aspect of the plan, but we don’t know that since BNSF has not been in recent communication with Brookfield, and Metra hasn’t gotten back to us.
It shouldn’t have to take 5-10 years to get what amounts to, accessibility aspect excepted, a pretty modest but impactful improvement to a key public transport hub.
If Brookfield is ever to get a developer to view this area as viable and profitable for redevelopment, improving that station is key. Leaving it half finished for years while BNSF dawdles does no one any good.
So please, BNSF, let’s get cracking on that south embankment project, or at least let’s hear from you when you actually plan to get to it. It’s important to Brookfield.