Lake Forest Receives Federal Grant to Rehab East Train Station
Two bus-type shelters to be installed at west side Metra station.
The Lake Forest City Council received two big announcements at Monday night's meeting about additions to both its east and west side train stations, just in time for Mayor James Cowhey's declaration of this week (Nov. 1-5) as "Train Safety Week."
Illinois State Senator Susan Garrett , who serves the 29th Legislative District which includes Lake Forest, told Lake Forest leaders that the city has just been awarded a federal grant of $835,000 for the city's rehabilitation of both Metra station. The city's grant application submitted to the Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program was one of 391 requesting nearly $370 million in funding.
The grant, which will be added to $400,000 in city funds and private donations, gives the city $1.2 million for the renovations. The east train station project will include replacing the roof, gutters , doors, floors, expanding restroom facilities to accommodate handicap accessibility, restoring plaster, and installing life-safety hardware.
"Hopefully come early spring, we will begin moving forward on this project," said Lake Forest City Manager Bob Kiely.
"I know the people of Lake Forest think that this is a great project," Garrett told city council members. "I just think the train station has been such a centerpiece with Market Square as a backdrop."
The east train station was erected in 1899 and scheduled for demolition in the late 1970s when private donations saved it from the wrecking ball.
In addition, the city announced two bus-type shelters will be installed on the east side of the tracks of the west side Metra station.
According to Lake Forest Assistant City Administrator Carina Walters, the city's Transportation Safety Management Committee requested the shelters in hopes they will help to increase pedestrian safety at the station, which has seen three train-related fatalities in the past three years.
"The committee asked staff to find the shelters," she explained.
The two shelters will each be big enough to accommodate up to 10 individuals. They are expected to be installed at the west side station by the end of December.
Pedestrian train safety in Lake Forest has become a primary concern for Mayor Cowhey since he took office in 2009.
The Transportation Safety Management Committee was appointed last spring to help enforce public safety around the city's railroad crossings. Their priority is to reduce the amount of vehicular and pedestrian train accidents by educating the public about the importance of awareness while in the vicinity of railroad tracks.
To help kick-off Train Safety Week, "Trainception," a transportation safety video produced by students from the telecommunications and new media department at Lake Forest High School, was shown for the first time to those present in the council chambers.
The video focuses on a typical family of four; a mother, father, high-school aged son, and his younger brother who go through their day distracted by the constant hurry of everyday life.
"We thought it would be appropriate if kids from the high school put it together as a peer video," said Cowhey, explaining the video is meant to spark a dialogue among teenagers and parents about the importance of train safety.
The proclamation of train safety week comes on the same day authorities confirmed that 29-year old Lake Forest resident Lauren LeVert was killed when she was truck by a Canadian Pacific freight train at the Lake Cook Road Station in Deerfield last Friday afternoon.