Metra breaks ground on bridge project near Grayland Station

Oct. 1, 2021
The project will replace a 122-year-old bridge that carries the Milwaukee District North Line, Amtrak and freight trains.

Metra held a groundbreaking ceremony on Sept. 20 for a $36.1-million project that will replace Bridge A32 over Milwaukee Avenue and reconstruct Grayland Station.

The 122-year-old bridge will be replaced with a ballasted double track bridge with new abutments. The platforms at the adjacent Grayland Station will be raised and rebuilt to be longer. The station, which is located south of the bridge, will also see new public address equipment, visual information signs, shelters with on-demand heat on each side, new lighting and new stairs and ramps, which will make it fully ADA-compliant.

“This bridge is used by dozens of Metra, Amtrak and freight trains every day, and it must be replaced to ensure that service can continue uninterrupted,” said Metra CEO/Executive Director Jim Derwinski. “While we are replacing the bridge, we also will create a more welcoming, comfortable and ADA-compliant station for the community’s My Metra riders.”

The project is being financed through a mix of federal, local and private funds, including $13.1 million from the Federal Transit Administration, $17.8 million from a Federal Railroad Administration grant through its Federal-State Partnership for State of Good Repair Program, $2.3 million from Canadian Pacific, the Class 1 freight railroad that uses the bridge, and $2.9 million in other Metra funding.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the bridge saw 61 Milwaukee District North Line trains, 17 Amtrak trains and several Class 1 and regional freight trains each weekday. Metra explains there would be no viable alternate route should the bridge be taken out of service, making its replacement critical to providing a link in the regional and national rail network.

In November 2020, the Metra Board of Directors awarded a $27-million contract to IHC Construction Companies of Elgin, Ill., for the project. IHC Construction agreed to subcontract 25 percent of the total work to minority- and women-owned firms.

A temporary two-track bridge will be used during construction to limit service disruptions and maintain the project schedule. A temporary Grayland Station, south of the current station, will be used to continue service to the area during the project.

Construction is expected to be complete in the spring of 2024.

“Our Old Irving community is thrilled to witness a new bridge being built at the Metra Grayland Station to enhance community safety, while creating a more inviting environment,” said Chicago Ald. James Gardiner (45th). “The 45th Ward is excited to partner with Metra to bring the very best in services that our community deserves.”

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Group Editorial Director

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine and group editorial director of the Infrastructure and Aviation Group at Endeavor Business Media. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the editorial direction of the group and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.