By Linda Girardi / The Beacon-News
The Metra board of directors last week awarded a $4.7 million engineering contract to a firm that will prepare conceptual designs for a potential extension of Metra’s Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway.
The engineering study will design the extension, lay out the future station sites, and project ridership numbers. In the end, we will finally know where the last stop will be on the line and the total cost of the extension, Oswego Village Administrator Dan Di Santo told The Beacon-News.
“This is a big step in bringing commuter rail service to Kendall County, which will provide a boon to the local economy and connect residents to the rest of the Chicago region through public transit,” Di Santo said.
The contract was awarded to Chicago-based Alfred Benesch & Company. The Metra board in August issued a request for Letters of Interest and Qualification to firms in its vendor database. Five firms submitted responses.
“Metra and its stakeholders are interested in the potential extension of Metra’s BNSF commuter rail service west of Aurora to a new terminus in Yorkville, Plano or Sandwich,” stated a Metra board memo that discusses the recommendation to approve the contract.
“New stations under consideration are in Montgomery, Oswego, Yorkville, Plano and Sandwich,” the memo said.
Metra is examining the potential impact of an extension, including environmental, real estate, infrastructure and design.
Oswego officials are thrilled by Metra’s move to authorize a contract for conceptual engineering design.
Di Santo said the contract will be paid through a federal earmark awarded in the mid-2000s. Local officials are also waiting for results of a feasibility study due at the end of the year.
“It’s taken us more than a decade to get to this point, and we can now finally take the next step in this long-awaited process,” Di Santo said.
There will be opportunities for residents’ involvement throughout the process, he said.
Oswego and Yorkville last year hired a firm for lobbying services to secure state transportation funds to pay for part of the commuter rail extension.