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Home / News & Reviews / News Wire / Digest: Developer’s agreement with Metra will allow project to be built above Electric line

Digest: Developer’s agreement with Metra will allow project to be built above Electric line

By | March 10, 2021

News Wire Digest for March 10: Amtrak employee charged with stealing 77 chainsaws, hundreds of parts; ENSCO gets contract for Transportation Technology Center

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Metra train arrives at station platform in downtown Chicago
Metra train arrives at station platform in downtown Chicago
A Metra Electric train arrives at the 18th Street station in downtown Chicago. A developer would build a replacement for the station as part of a planned project near Soldier Field. Trains: David Lassen

Developer’s deal will allow construction above Metra tracks, lead to new station

A Chicago developer says he has reached agreement with Metra to build over Metra Electric District tracks as part of a $20 billion development in the area near Soldier Field, a deal that will include the developer building a replacement for Metra’s 18th Street Station and a new railyard. The Chicago Sun-Times reports those features would be part of a $3.8 billion transit facility, also serving the Chicago Transit Authority and Amtrak, to be built by Landmark Development as part of its One Central project. Landmark president Bob Dunn said the agreement would allow construction without disrupting commuter operations. Metra said in a statement that it had reaced “an initial memorandum of understanding” and said, “while Metra is excited by the potential benefits of this development, we have taken no position on Landmark’s specific ridership, tax revenue, and economic impact projections.”

Amtrak employee charged with selling stolen chainsaws, parts for more than $50,000

An Amtrak employee has been charged with stealing dozens of chainsaws and hundreds of parts from the passenger railroad and selling them online for more than $50,000. ABC News reports Jose Rodriguez, a 48-year-old Brick, N.J., resident and Amtrak employee since 2007, is alleged to have stolen the items between 2016 and July 2020. In all, he is said to have sold 77 chainsaws, 103 replacement bars and 163 replacement chains to buyers in seven states. He faces one count of stealing government property and one count of stealing from an agency receiving federal funds; each count carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison.

ENSCO receives $571 million deal for work at Transportation Technology Center (corrected)

Transportation, defense, and intelligence technology firm ENSCO has received a $571 million contract for engineering and training services in support of Federal Railroad Administration operations at the Transportation Technology Center in Pueblo, Colo. Under the contract — for a base term of five years with three five-year options — will work to modernize the facility and expand its use by other governmental and commercial entities. Operations currently handled by Transportation Technology Center, Inc.,  will transition to ENSCO by October 2022.

— Details of ENSCO contract corrected at 1 p.m.

7 thoughts on “Digest: Developer’s agreement with Metra will allow project to be built above Electric line

  1. Someone please help me out here. Is there a proposal to route some Amtrak trains to the Lakefront? Also, what happened to the proposal to route some Burlington Route Metra trains to Millennium? These are fascinating proposals.

  2. One might also examine the picture for ROW remnants…to the right were possible yard tracks and is that a lead going East under old NYC and Rock Island trackage. Back in the day it was possible to ride the South Shore and do a cross platform transfer to the IC north.

  3. @Curtis Larson: The bridge in the right side of the photo is the McCormick Place Bus Express lane going under the St Charles Airline (CN). Landmark wants to bring Metra and Amtrak through One Central and have the 18th Street Station service them. If you want to see the total plan, you can go to

    I will tell you the South Loop Community Association is dead set against *any* commuter trains using the StCAL. The line is elevated above the street, only moves a periodic freight at night. Commuter trains would bring additional noise at the 3rd and 4th floors of several condos built up around the ROW.

  4. I try to keep up with Chicago rail news since I lived and worked there for 35+ years, all of it in train ops at and IC Commuter Division and then Metra. And I haven’t a clue what this developer has in mind for an Amtrak station. I’ve heard nothing indicating a new Amtrak depot in the city or for bringing selected Metra/BNSF trains across the SCAL and somehow to Millennium Station. I don’t believe there is still space for a connection track north off the SCAL to connect with the Electric District. And both Metra and the South Shore stations are under such cover that bringing diesels in them would create unhealthy conditions. para. What is at right in the photo is an area that was “back in the day” Weldon Yard tracks that were south of Central Station. The bridge is on the CN’s double track approach to the SCAL. It goes over the 2-lane McCormick Place-Randolph Street Busway, built by the Richard M. Daly administration because he wanted the City to control access to McCormick Place to/from the downtown hotels rather than Metra. So the only place I can see for an Amtrak station is on the CN for trains to/from CUS. That huge grey building in the background center is McCormick Place. The Electric does a reverse curve under the CN under McCormick Place and has a station (much grander) which like 18th Street is accessible only to the two center tracks. para.

  5. The tracks that allowed StCAL trains to go north to what is now Millenium Station was donated to the Chicago Park District. It is called “Mark Twain Park”. The developer is simply attempting to add more visible transit options to his development. The total buildout of the number of towers and high rises are significant. To attract business tenants, the developer knows he has to be able to attract some sort of suburban transit riders beyond just the Metra IC Electric. The other problem with these plans is that the StCAL Bridge over the Chicago River doesn’t promote easy access to CUS. Amtrak currently crosses the bridge onto BNSF tracks and then does a back up maneuver to get the consist into CUS. There is a second bridge there, which hasn’t moved in over 50 years that supported the former B&O Grand Central. While the approach to that bridge from the west is still intact, the land was sold by CSXT when the yard at Wood Ave was sold to then CNW, now part of UP Global One. Everything in between is apartment buildings. Developers are dreaming kinds of companies, they like to dream as big as possible, and settle for the most profitable. It just isn’t going to happen the way they expect. Chicago, since the 1960’s, has been trying to get rid of heavy rail downtown, not make room for it.

  6. Mr. Rice: looking at the rendering on Pg.22 of the developer’s slick e-brochure it seems the Metra service to/from One Central would somehow originate/terminate there, bypass CUS, and head west, presumably on BNSF. Perhaps this is predicated on CN vacating the Air Line. Hard to tell how a Metra terminal would work otherwise. Amtrak service appears to be as an lakefront stop on the way to/from CUS. Admittedly, the head-on route SCAL-CUS suggested in the rendering would be well nigh impossible to build at a price anyone would be willing to pay.

  7. @Mark Shapp: I agree. The farther you develop from the Loop, the less flexibility you have with heavy rail transit. This developer sees the tracks, sees the connections and assumes its possible. But operationally, its just not viable.

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