As he took the podium at Monday morning's dedication ceremony for the renovated 80th Avenue Metra station, Tinley Park Mayor Ed Zabrocki produced a 34-year-old photo given to him by Village Manager Scott Niehaus.
It depicted—in all its aged and bleached-out color glory—a single train along a set of tracks and a parking lot, all anchored in a sea of open field and brush.
"I remember sitting here as a trustee in 1977, '78, saying, 'My God, what did we build here'," Zabrocki said of the original terminal and its surrounding environs.
"In those 34 years we've come a long way," he added. "And this particular area has kind of grown to be the center of our community in many different ways."
The photo was a stark contrast to the station that was the center of attention Monday, Nov. 26, as village, state and Metra representatives were on hand for a ribbon-cutting event that officially marked the end of the $11.5 million project.
But with many of the new features—such as regular food service in the main hall being temporarily handled by Diana's Kitchen—already operating for some time, Monday's event was less of an opening and more of a coming-out party for officials to introduce the station to Tinley "polite society" and rave about it, débutante style. Zabrocki said it would win awards like its sister station on Oak Park Avenue. Metra Chairman Brad O'Halloran called the 80th Avenue station "the Taj Mahal of the system."
"This station and the one down the tracks [at Oak Park Avenue], they're the most beautiful and welcoming stations in all of Metra," O'Halloran said, adding that the 80th Avenue station was the busiest on the Rock Island line and the fourth busiest in the entire Metra system. "These are destination points that stand out. … We all expect it to become an integral part of Tinley Park for many years to come. Tinley Park residents and our Metra Tinley Park riders deserve nothing less."
U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-3rd District), however, offered the most incisive—and humorous—bit of praise for the 80th Avenue station.
"The only thing I'm concerned about with this station is that everyone is going to want to have a station like this," he said during his remarks, which drew laughter from the crowd. "So now everywhere I go in my district, they're going to say, 'We want money for a station just as nice as they have in Tinley Park'."
YOUR TURN: What do you think about the renovated 80th Avenue Metra station? Will it become a destination spot for residents or just be a fancy looking place to catch a train? Take our poll and share your thoughts in the comments section.
More Stories About the 80th Avenue Station on Tinley Park Patch:
- Tinley Park Honors Its Veterans, Then Dedicates Plaza to Rea
- Ongoing Work at 80th Avenue Metra Station Will Interrupt Commuter Routines
- Business Comings & Goings: Metra Station to Open in Tinley Park
- Commuters to Enjoy Improved 80th Avenue Metra Station in March
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