Excitement has been abundant regarding the new Oakton stop on the Yellow Line in downtown Skokie. Turns out the excitement is going to have to be put on hold for a while.
After the village staff had talked about the new stop being opened sometime right after the first of the year. That deadline then pushed it back to March. Now, officials are saying the new stop won't be open to the public until sometime this Spring.
Despite the mild winter, construction has not moved along as quickly as originally hoped. As for when commuters can expect to have access to the station, Skokie Mayor George Van Dusen is now talking about April.
“It is going to be done in April for certain,” Van Dusen said while speaking to the Skokie Caucus Party Monday night. “We are now at the tail end of the punch list which are the little things,” he said.
A newsletter updating the progress of the station specified a number of items on that “punch list.” The roofing and exterior site work has been completed, but several internal aspects of the project need to be finished first, including signal and train equipment, storage bins, benches and interior lighting, among others.
Another part of the delay is the installation of high definition security cameras at the station which will require new wiring. That is part of the normal procedure, according to Catherine Hosinski, a CTA spokeswoman.
“Currently, all 143 CTA rail stations are equipped with multiple high-definition cameras as part of a multi-pronged transit-security initiative designed to help deter crime and assist in solving crimes that occur on or near the system,” Hosinski said in an e-mail. “Any new stations added to the system, such as the Oakton/Yellow Line or Morgan/Green Line stations that are currently under construction, also will be equipped with security cameras to ensure safety and security conformity across the system.”
The village is responsible for the construction of the approximate $20 million station. A majority of that money came from through a federal government grant. The other is being paid for by Skokie taxpayers.
The CTA needs to sign off on the construction before doors can be opened.
“Our hope and our expectation which is dependent on many factors including the construction and the CTA installing the fare equipment and the CTA giving the green light for service to come on,” said Ann Tennes, a village of Skokie spokeswoman. “At present we don’t have a date specific yet.”
Tennes did say the project remains on budget.
“Everyone is anxious for service to commence,” Tennes said. “We know the new station will benefit the entire community and in particular the Illinois Science and Technology Park and downtown Skokie.”
Officials at the Illinois Science and Technology Park, which employs approximately 1,300 people many of whom are expected to utilize the Oakton stop, had no comment about the delay.
The Yellow Line – at one time known as the Skokie Swift – has operated from Howard to Dempster for decades. The Oakton stop is seen as a potential boost to downtown Skokie with the hope of adding much needed pedestrian traffic into the area.
Van Dusen said there will not be an extension of the Skokie Swift any time soon. There has been talk of lengthening the railway to Old Orchard in the past, but it never got beyond talk and that is where it remains today.
“Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood has made it very clear there is no federal money across the country.” Van Dusen said. “If any money is going to come from federal transit, it is not going to be hardware, it is going to be for trains and possibly for operations.”
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