End in Sight for Work at 80th Avenue Metra Station
Today is Customer Appreciation Day at the 80th Avenue Metra Station, where construction is—slowly but surely—coming to a close. We've got photos of the inside of the site's grand building, as well as info on when you can expect everything else to be done.
Today marks the end of the project's first phase of construction—completion of the 5,600 square-foot building that replaces a small 1,400 square-foot shelter built in 1978. An official grand opening for the site, including a unveiling of a sunken garden, pedestrian underpass and the highly-anticipated Veterans Plaza, is scheduled for November.
But Thursday, village and Metra officials are on site until 9 a.m. handing out coffee and doughnuts in honor of "Commuter Appreciation Day," through which they strive to thank patient community members who have looked forward to using the new station. Commuters were able this morning to peruse the inside of the new building and the platform's warming stations.
Heavy masonry, cathedral ceilings, large wooden beams and copper accent the new digs, which were designed by architect Ted Haug of Legat Architects, who also had a hand in the downtown station.
"We want this to have a grand, sort of monumental feel to it," he said at the station last week. "It's reflective of the late 1800s, early 1900s. It's the gateway to the community."
Tinley Park Mayor Ed Zabrocki noted that the village's roots come from the railroad. It was named in honor of Samuel Tinley Sr., he said, who was the area's first "railroad master."
The 80th Avenue project has a price tag of about $11 million, $6.5 million of which came from Metra and $4.5 million of which came from the village's reserve funds and an issued bond. None of the costs will be tacked onto residents' property taxes, Zabrocki stressed.
"We are roughly on time with the project as a whole," Public Works Director Dale Schepers said last week while giving a "sneak peek tour" of the station. "We were originally looking at wrapping up in July, but now everything will be done in August."
The station's former building will be demolished by the end of the month, he noted. The 80th Avenue building is nearly twice the size of that at Oak Park Avenue.
The downtown train station includes a 3,000 square-foot building that has a small cafe but no kitchen. That's what separates it from the 80th Avenue site, which boasts a full kitchen, long bar, tables and even a stone fireplace near the dining area.
However, the village hasn't yet settled on a vendor to take the reigns of food service.
"If we're going to have a vendor … we want them to be sustain themselves," Schepers said, adding that the village has run into hurdles because the Oak Park Avenue station lacks a kitchen. "We need to give them the tools to make them successful."
The village extended from Jan. 30 its deadline for accepting vendor applications. Vendors can now apply until the start of April, officials said.
The site's final phase will include making slight parking adjustments in both north and south lots, constructing a pedestrian underpass that's mandated as a safety measure, adding landscaping that features native plant species and completing the veterans plaza.
The plaza will be immediately outside the new building in front of the south lot and will feature five commemorative stones, one for each branch of the military, officials have said. It will fittingly be presented with the rest of the renovations on Veterans Day.