Archive for the ‘METRA’ Category

Darch Triangle

Barrington village trustees unanimously approved plans Monday to redevelop the 6.2-acre Golden Triangle site downtown with a four-story building that will includes homes, retail space and a restaurant. (Courtesy of the Village of Barrington)

A proposal for a mixed-use development in downtown Barrington’s 6.2-acre Golden Triangle area passed its final test this week.

Barrington village board members unanimously approved the development at 200-300 N. Hough St. Monday, clearing the way for a four-story building on the former Market Center and Volvo dealership property.

The building will contain 125 residential units and 12,000 square feet of commercial restaurant/retail space. The proposal also calls for 37 “car condominiums.”

Developer and Barrington resident Joe Taylor said he plans to operate a full-service restaurant on the property that will not replicate what already exists downtown Barrington.

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CN overhead

A Canadian National train passes through the crossing on Route 59 between Northwest Highway and Hough Street in Barrington. The recent derailment of a train with hazardous chemicals in Ohio has led to questions about how a similar event would be addressed in Barrington. (Daily Herald file photo)

Since the Canadian National Railway acquired the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Railway in 2009, Barrington has raised concerns about the volume of freight train traffic it’s caused and delays at rail crossings.

Now, in the wake of the fiery derailment of a 50-car train in East Palestine, Ohio, Barrington residents are asking what would happen if a similar disaster happened here.

“We have a lot of freight traffic, especially on the Canadian National,” Village President Karen Darch said during Monday’s village board meeting. “And I just want to say to the folks who are listening that that’s something that’s been top of mind, especially since CN purchased the former EJ&E years ago.”

She said the village’s firefighters and first responders have received training on hazardous material emergencies, and the town’s emergency operations plan addresses scenarios involving releases of hazardous materials.

The Barrington Area Council of Governments also has conducted a hazardous materials tabletop exercise, Darch said.

Communities along freight rail paths, the railroads and federal regulators should learn from the information gathered by the National Transportation Safety Board on the Ohio derailment, which will lead to better standards, she added.

Darch also urged residents to provide the village with contact information, so officials can get in touch if an evacuation is needed.

Read more here.

We’ll reserve comment except to note that the Village of Barrington is poised to vote on approving: “Luxury apartments, restaurants. What Barrington might do with its ‘Golden Triangle’.”

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Barrington’s plan commission recommended a proposal for a four-story, mixed-use building in a part of the village’s downtown known as the “Golden Triangle.” The plan calls for 125 apartments, space for retail or restaurant uses and storage for high-end and classic cars. (Courtesy of Barrington)

We’re noticing a bunch of dramatic new multifamily housing proposals in some well-known spots in the suburbs this year. We’re impressed with much of it and especially pleased to see that at least a little of the planned housing is affordable housing.

This month the Barrington Plan Commission heard and supported a proposal for a new mixed-use development that includes luxury apartments and storage for high-end and classic cars in the village’s “Golden Triangle,” replacing the former Market Center building and a former Volvo dealership. The CEO of the development company said the project will include “an integrated lobby, just like a boutique hotel.” Barrington has been looking to redevelop the site since the 1990s.

Head south down Barrington Road to Hoffman Estates, where the village has seen a wave of proposals that could bring as many as 2,700 multifamily housing units. That includes the 296-unit Seasons at Hoffman Estates apartment complex at the southeast corner of Higgins Road and Moon Lake Boulevard, now being built; 164 high-end townhouses approved as part of larger housing plans at Bell Works, on the former AT&T campus, with 300 apartments given preliminary approval; and 600 luxury apartments proposed for the long-vacant former Menards site in Barrington Square.

While affordable housing isn’t a feature in the Barrington or Hoffman Estates developments – though the $1,700 to $2,500 a month rents included in the Barrington Square plan at least are closer to average — it is a feature elsewhere.

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Metra Train #712 at about 12:00 p.m. stopped on the UP Northwest Line just west of Ela Road after striking and killing a pedestrian (PHOTO CREDIT: Jimmy Bolf).

Police, firefighters and paramedics from Barrington responded about 11:27 a.m. Sunday, January 22, 2023 to a report that a Metra train on the Union Pacific Northwest Line hit a pedestrian near the block of 1100 South Northwest Highway in Barrington.

Metra train #712 is stopped just west of Ela Road after striking a pedestrian. All inbound and outbound trains were stopped just after 11:27 a.m. Metra train #712 on Sundays and holidays is an inbound train from Harvard to Chicago, and was scheduled to arrive at the following locations immediately after the Barrington Metra station

More here.

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Barrington Metra

Metra directors approved a $980 million operating budget for 2023 that continues a popular “Super Saver” monthly pass.

Metra directors opted to keep bargain fares offering flexibility to riders as they adopted the 2023 budget Friday, but the move will mean about $2 million less than originally estimated in revenues.

The agency will continue offering its popular $100 “Super Saver” monthly pass with unlimited rides, $6 daily pass in up to three zones and $10 systemwide daily pass.

The three products were introduced amid the COVID-19 pandemic in an effort to tempt passengers back after a record drop in ridership.

A preliminary budget presented in October recommended reverting to a discounted monthly pass with zones, but Metra directors opposed the change.

Federal aid will help the commuter railroad balance its budgets in 2023 and 2024, but a shortfall of $54 million is expected in 2025 when federal relief is used up.

The 2023 budget allocates $980 million for operations, including diesel fuel and salaries. It’s about $80 million higher than the 2022 amended version due mainly to inflation and adding employees, administrators said.

“We definitely have a lot of work to do in the next couple of years, not just for Metra but the entire public transportation system,” Executive Director Jim Derwinski said.

More here.

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Barrington Metra

Metra is weighing whether to return some of its passes to zone-based pricing in 2023, which would mark an end to promotional flat-rate daily and monthly passes recently tested by the agency.

The new monthly pass prices, part of a 2023 budget proposal unveiled at a board meeting Wednesday, would be lower than pre-pandemic. But for many riders, both the proposed monthly and daily pass prices would be an increase over the current flat-rate pilot passes.

Several Metra board members raised concerns about the proposed pass changes, urging fare consistency and the simplicity of fewer zones as the agency looks to continue drawing back riders from pandemic lows.

After the meeting, Metra spokesman Michael Gillis said the agency would also include current fares, including the flat-rate day and monthly passes, among budget options for the board to consider. That means the board will decide in November whether to keep the status quo or adopt the agency’s proposed new zone-based passes.

Metra did not propose changes to other pass prices or base fares.

Metra fares have traditionally been divided into zones, meaning the farther a passenger rides, the more they pay. After ridership plummeted at the start of the pandemic, Metra began testing a $100 flat-rate monthly pass and $6 and $10 daily passes.

More here.

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BHS Trafic

“Sounds like a nuisance.” – The Daily Herald’s description of District 220’s traffic plan. Officials are so confused they’ve misspelled traffic signs.

“As you are aware, the Lake County Department of Transportation is replacing the bridge over Flint Creek on Hart Road. The bridge replacement and road closure is scheduled through November. To help mitigate traffic impacts from the road closure, representatives and traffic engineers from the Lake County Department of Transportation, the Village of Barrington, and Barrington 220 have worked in collaboration to improve traffic flow on and around the Barrington High School Campus. Although these efforts will help alleviate congestion at arrival and dismissal time, improved traffic flow can only go so far toward mitigating congestion.

To that end, Barrington 220 and the Village of Barrington have been consulting with Barrington Transportation to help reduce congestion near BHS. We ask that all students and families consider walking, biking, or riding the bus if possible. In fact, students who consistently walk, bike, or ride the bus on and off of campus will be entered into a drawing to win BHS spirit wear, gift cards for Airpods, Apple Watches and more.

Other ways to reduce congestion could be to utilize these remote options:

1) Purchase a parking permit for one of 3 locations at a cost of $100:

  • The Barrington – 540 W Northwest HWY (125 spots available) (MAP)
  • The Barrington Metra Station – 201 South Spring Street (125 spots available) (MAP)
  • St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church – 720 Dundee Ave (100 spots available) (MAP)

2) Sign-up for dropping off students at a remote location (FREE) 

  • The Barrington – 540 W Northwest HWY
  • The Barrington Metra Station – 201 South Spring Street

Both options include a shuttle bus from the location to BHS, leaving remote locations at 8AM and a shuttle bus from BHS to the remote locations at the end of the school day, arriving at the remote locations at approximately 3:50PM. Parking permit and remote drop-off is for August 22 to November 4.

From now until 7AM on Friday, September 6, 2022 you can click here to purchase a parking permit ($100) or sign up for drop off locations.

Please note, the Barrington Police department will be patrolling the additional parking areas, and violators will be ticketed and potentially towed at the owner’s expense. In addition, please be aware that parking in the remote lots is at your own risk. In the case of vandalism or damage occurring to their vehicle, the owner of the vehicle is responsible for remediating through their personal auto insurance, or out of pocket.

Please note that during the school year the main entrance to BHS off of Main Street will only be accessible to staff, buses and Build 220 construction traffic. All students and parents must use the west parking lot (off Hart Road) to access the building. The west parking lot is reserved for senior parking only.”


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With Metra ridership still less than half of pre-pandemic levels and gas prices skyrocketing, the commuter rail service will soon test a new, cheaper monthly pass.

Metra will sell monthly passes for $100, valid for unlimited travel on the rail system, for use beginning in July. The Super Saver pass will be offered for a three-month trial period, after which Metra will evaluate whether to continue the offer.

Regular monthly passes now cost between $116 and $275, depending on the distance traveled.

The reduced monthly pilot program comes as ridership across Metra’s 11 lines Tuesday was about 40% of an average weekday in May 2019, Metra spokesman Michael Gillis said. The rail agency provided 110,763 passenger trips.

Metra has been steadily tweaking schedules and adding service across several lines as ridership ticked up and the agency anticipated the return of more weekday office workers, who often have different work and commute patterns than pre-pandemic.

In another attempt to draw back riders, Metra earlier in 2022 began offering a new, $6 daily pass valid for unlimited rides within three zones. The pass joined a $10 daily pass unveiled earlier during the pandemic valid for unlimited rides on all Metra lines.

Story continues here.

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A Metra train moves along the Union Pacific Northwest Line Oct. 29, 2019, in Lake Barrington. (Stacey Wescott / Chicago Tribune)

Anticipating the return of more weekday commuters, Metra is significantly boosting service on its Union Pacific Northwest line and tweaking the Union Pacific North schedule.

Metra plans to add 21 trains per weekday to the 45 currently operating on the Northwest Line, which runs from Ogilvie Transportation Center to McHenry and Harvard. That will bring the total number of weekday trains to one more than pre-pandemic levels, Metra spokesman Michael Gillis said.

It’s the latest line that will see increased service, after Metra made steep cuts at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic as ridership on the commuter rail service plummeted. Metra also recently added trains to the BNSF Line that runs between Chicago Union Station and Aurora.

Ridership remains low, as workers have returned to offices in fits and starts and often have new work and commute patterns. On Wednesday, ridership across all 11 Metra lines was 34.8% of April 2019 levels, Gillis said.

On the Union Pacific Northwest Line, trips were about 27% of pre-pandemic levels, he said.

Metra has said it planned to restore service even before ridership fully returned to ensure there is space for riders, Gillis said.

More here.

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Barrington Metra

Metra plans to start installing new ticket vending machines across the system next year, a transition that may have a significant impact on future fare collection.

Board directors last week approved a $70 million contract with California-based VenTek International to purchase and maintain 650 ticket vending machines.

The first phase of the redo involves 300 machines. Beginning in mid-2022, workers will swap out older units at downtown stations and busy Metra Electric stops. At 57 manned stations, “we would go to vending machines only, including downtown stations, where we would have customer service staff available” to assist riders, spokesman Michael Gillis said.

Metra will not lay off ticket agents. “Some positions will be cut through attrition, and others will be reassigned to customer service roles,” Gillis said.

In addition, 75 machines will be located at strategic stations to pilot a “proof-of-payment” fare system.

In the second phase, 350 more machines will be installed across the system so all 242 train stations will have a vending machine.

Most of Metra fares — nearly 69% — are handled through the Ventra app.

More here.

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